Hernandez back in court as lawyers discuss defense

Former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez, left, listen to testimony during his trial, Monday, March 9, 2015, at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Ma. Hernandez is accused of the June 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, Aram Boghosian, Pool)

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — With jurors taking the day off, the lawyers and judge in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial tackled some legal procedures Friday as the case against the former New England Patriots player wraps up.

Prosecutors rested their case Thursday after calling 131 witnesses and submitting hundreds of pieces of evidence. The defense is expected to present witnesses and rest on Monday. Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh told jurors she expected them to have the case next week.

During court Friday, Garsh heard motions from both the defense and prosecution in the case.

First, Hernandez’s lawyers requested a “required not guilty finding” claiming the prosecution failed to prove motive, intent or knowing participation.

“Despite two months of evidence, it leaves not just gaps but really gaping holes in the Commonwealth’s case. Those are gaping holes which can not be filled in by speculation,” said attorney James Sultan. “A jury could certainly find, based on the evidence, looking at it in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, that Mr. Hernandez helped to cover up this crime. But, that conduct is properly chargeable as a crime of accessory after the fact. But, Mr. Hernandez is not on trial for that charge.”

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The prosecution disputed the ascertain the state didn’t prove its case.

“He’s provided the gun. He’s provided the car. He’s the one with the relationship. He’s the one calling Shayanna Jenkins to get the number. He’s the one whose phone is not being used now, it’s somebody else whose phone is some other person’s name. He drives. He picks him up. He immediately drives to the scene with no other reasonable explanation,” said Assistant District Attorney William McCauley.

As expected, the judge ruled against the motion, which was largely filed as a formality.

The judge also heard motions regarding closing arguments and jury instructions.

Judge Garsh said she would instruct they jury that prosecutors had to have proved Hernandez “knowingly participated” in the act of killing Odin Lloyd.

She also ruled that closing arguments and the charging of the jury would not be separated, so the earliest date for those proceedings would be Tuesday.

The defense had said 45 minutes would be sufficient for closing arguments, but could do it the typical 30 minutes. However, the prosecution requested 90 minutes, which Garsh granted.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty in the June 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd. Lloyd was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée.

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