FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Ex-New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez lost a bid Friday to have his cellphone and some other evidence thrown out in the murder case against him.
After hearing several days of testimony last week, Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh ruled to allow Hernandez’s personal BlackBerry as evidence. Authorities say he used it to communicate with Odin Lloyd on the night of Lloyd’s June 2013 killing.
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The defense had argued the phone was seized under a false claim of legal authority, but Bristol County prosecutors said they had a warrant to seize and search it and Hernandez’s lawyers turned it over to law enforcement without objection.
“The turning over of the phone was a voluntary act. It was not the result of force, threat, trickery, duress or coercion,” Garsh wrote in a 22-page decision that declared the warrant valid.
The defense also lost a bid to have tossed a rifle and ammunition that police found in a car in Hernandez’s garage while executing a search warrant at his North Attleborough home. His attorneys had argued that the rifle and several other items were outside the scope of the warrant. Only a white towel was thrown out.
Authorities have said a white towel was found near where Lloyd’s body was discovered by a jogger.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty in Lloyd’s killing. The semi-professional football player from Boston was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins.
Also Friday, Garsh ruled against a motion filed by Jenkins’ attorney to have the perjury case against her dismissed. Prosecutors have said Jenkins lied repeatedly in testimony to the grand jury that indicted Hernandez, including over her disposal of a box authorities say he asked her to retrieve from their basement and get rid of.
The judge rejected Jenkins’ attorney’s argument that the grand jury didn’t hear probable cause and that its integrity was impaired in part because prosecutors tried to entrap her.
In trying to get Hernandez’s BlackBerry thrown out, his lawyers also argued that the ex-player was unlawfully interrogated at his home, including about the phone’s passcode. In a prior affidavit, Hernandez said that he felt “helpless in the face of the occupation of my house by the police” and that he worried “what would happen” to Jenkins and their baby if he didn’t answer questions. He had directed police the day before to speak to his lawyers.
Garsh said Friday that there was no evidence “of any physical control” by police over Hernandez and that a “reasonable person” would have felt free not to respond when asked about the phone’s passcode and to leave.
The defense earlier won a bid to have other pieces of evidence suppressed. Garsh last week threw out bullets found in an apartment in Franklin that was rented by Hernandez and a magazine found in his Hummer. She ruled that police had not adequately demonstrated probable cause in getting a search warrant.
The items were the same caliber believed used in Lloyd’s killing, authorities have said.
The district attorney’s office did not fight the defense’s bid to have that evidence thrown out.
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