FALL RIVER, Mass. – Two associates of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez were indicted Friday on murder charges in the shooting death of a man last summer about a mile from Hernandez’s home, prosecutors said.
A grand jury in Bristol County returned separate indictments against Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace in the June 2013 killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd, District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter said.
Ortiz and Wallace, who are from Bristol, Conn., where Hernandez grew up, had been charged previously with accessory to murder after the fact and had pleaded not guilty. They had been ordered held on $500,000 bail on the older charges.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder in the killing of Lloyd, a 27-year-old Boston resident who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins.
Jenkins, who testified before the grand jury, has been charged with perjury in the case. Hernandez’s cousin Tanya Singleton, who refused to testify, has been charged with criminal contempt and conspiracy to commit accessory after the fact. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The district attorney’s office said Friday that Ortiz and Wallace would be arraigned in Fall River Superior Court on the new charges at a date yet to be scheduled. The office said it would have no further comment on the indictments until then.
Ortiz’s lawyer, John Connors, said he had not seen the indictment but called it “totally ridiculous.” He said, as he had in the past, that Ortiz was “just along for the ride” with Hernandez, Wallace and Lloyd on the night Lloyd was killed.
Connors said the district attorney’s office has strung his client along, charging him first with a weapons violation, then accusing him of being an accessory.
“It almost looks to me like they felt they couldn’t use him as a witness, (so) they’re going to charge him?” he said. “Why wouldn’t they have done this months ago? There’s no new evidence in this matter.”
Questions have been raised about the reliability of Ortiz as a witness. Prosecutors say he has told authorities that he didn’t see who shot Lloyd but that Hernandez and Lloyd were alone outside the car. That’s different from his initial story, in which, according to court records, he told police that Hernandez and Wallace got out with Lloyd.
Lloyd’s bullet-riddled body was found by a jogger in an industrial park in North Attleborough. Prosecutors have said Hernandez was upset with Lloyd for talking at a nightclub to some people with whom he had problems. They have not identified who they believe pulled the trigger.
A message was left for Wallace’s attorney, David Meier. Wallace has been described by prosecutors as Hernandez’s “right-hand man.”