star Hernandez double-murder trial set for May
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[June 25, 2014]
By Daniel Lovering
BOSTON (Reuters) - Former National
Football League star Aaron Hernandez is tentatively scheduled to go on
trial in May of next year on charges he gunned down two Cape Verdean men
in Boston in 2012, the second murder trial he faces in Massachusetts.
At a pretrial hearing at Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on
Tuesday, Judge Jeffrey Locke set an expected trial start date of May
28, 2015, and said he would consider a request by defense attorneys
to issue a gag order to limit pretrial publicity.
Hernandez, a former New England Patriots tight end, is charged in
the 2012 murders of Cape Verdean nationals Daniel Abreu and Safiro
Furtado. He appeared in court wearing a suit and tie, and the judge
allowed his handcuffs to be removed.
Prosecutors have said Hernandez shot the two strangers in Boston
after flying into a rage over a spilled drink. The charges, they
said, were based on the testimony of a friend of his who was with
him that night and video surveillance footage.
Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Haggan said
Hernandez hid a .38-caliber handgun in the engine block of the
silver SUV he was driving the night of the murders.
After Abreu inadvertently spilled a drink on him at a nightclub,
Hernandez followed the car the men were riding in and pulled
alongside them, Haggan said. Hernandez then leaned out the driver's
side window and yelled "Yo, What's up now?" followed by a racial
slur, and then shot them dead, Haggan said.
Hernandez told a friend with him that night that Abreu had “targeted
and disrespected him,” according to Haggan.
Defense attorney James
Sultan argued for a gag order to prevent extrajudicial statements by
prosecutors and pretrial publicity from "poisoning" the pool of
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"I am extremely dubious that Mr. Hernandez can receive a fair
trial," he told the judge. "It's going to be hard enough for him to
get a fair trial, so let's safeguard his rights."
He cited a gag order issued in a separate murder case involving
Hernandez in Bristol County. Hernandez was charged in June in the
shooting death of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd in an
apparently unrelated incident.
Prosecutor Haggan countered that such an order was "unnecessary,
unreasonable and unwarranted," and that the court had successfully
handled a high-profile cases before.
Judge Locke said he would take the request under advisement.
(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Grant McCool)
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