BOSTON (AP) — Prosecutors have decided not to oppose a move by lawyers for former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez to suppress evidence against him in a 2013 murder case.
In court filings Wednesday, prosecutors said that they won’t fight the request to keep out .45-caliber bullets found in a Franklin apartment rented by Hernandez and a .45-caliber magazine found in his Hummer. The only explanation they offered was that it’s “in the interests of justice, and to avoid any delay.”
Prosecutors have said that police haven’t found the weapon used to kill semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee, but believe it was a .45-caliber pistol.
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A spokesman for Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter did not return a call seeking comment Thursday on why prosecutors will not fight the defense request to suppress the ammunition evidence. One of Hernandez’s lawyers, James Sultan, declined to comment.
Lloyd’s body was found on June 17, 2013, in an industrial park about a mile from Hernandez’s North Attleborough home.
When police initially applied for a search warrant for Hernandez’s Franklin apartment, they said they wanted to examine a cellphone owned by Carlos Ortiz, a co-defendant who was with Hernandez the night Lloyd was killed. Police said they believed the phone could contain evidence of a crime. After their initial search, police applied for additional warrants, including one to look for ammunition.
Hernandez’s lawyers argued that because police did not have probable cause for the first warrant, evidence found during subsequent searches should not be admissible.
Typically, prosecutors only drop their opposition to suppression motions if they realize the defense has a strong chance of getting the evidence tossed out because of an improper search warrant or if they believe the evidence is not important to their case, Suffolk University Law School professor Christopher Dearborn said.
It may have been difficult for prosecutors in the Hernandez case to get the ammunition evidence before a jury, he said.
“What they have is a generic caliber of a gun they believe was used in the killing and they found ammunition that could be used from the same type of gun, but they don’t actually have the murder weapon,” Dearborn said.
He said that’s “legally tenuous” because there’s no direct link and there are “thousands of guns just like this.”
Prosecutors asked a judge to seal the defense motion to suppress the evidence taken from the apartment, citing a reference to a polygraph test Ortiz took after Lloyd’s killing. According to the filing, the polygraph examiner found Ortiz was “not truthful” when he denied shooting Lloyd.
Prosecutors argued that the references to the polygraph test could affect the ability of Hernandez or his co-defendant to receive a fair trial.
Judge E. Susan Garsh denied the request to seal the motion, saying it had already been publicly available.
Hernandez, who grew up in Bristol, Connecticut, has pleaded not guilty in the Lloyd killing.
He also has pleaded not guilty in the 2012 killings of two Boston men. Prosecutors allege Hernandez shot the men after one of them accidentally spilled a drink on him in a nightclub.