FALL RIVER — Thirteen women and five men were selected on Monday to serve as jurors in the Bristol County murder trial of Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriot tight end who is accused of orchestrating the murder of Odin L. Lloyd in 2013.
Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh said she will swear in the jurors on Thursday, weather permitting, unless she finds cause to dismiss any of them. Opening statements would begin after jurors take their oath.
Before sending jurors home on Monday, Garsh instructed them to avoid any media coverage of the case, and to avoid discussing it with anyone. Each morning before the trial begins, Garsh said, she will ask jurors if they have complied.
“Do your absolute best to avoid anything at all” about the case outside the courtroom, Garsh said, adding that the trial could last from six to 10 weeks.
The 18 jurors were culled from a pool of more than 50 people during a court session Monday morning. During preemptory challenges, Hernandez’s lawyers knocked out 17 potential jurors, while prosecutors found problems with 13. Lawyers did not have to give reasons for striking jurors from the pool.
Six of the 18 jurors will be designated as alternates after testimony ends in the trial and once deliberations begin.
After the jury was selected Monday, Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward, wiped her eyes as she sat with other relatives. Hernandez’s family was not present in court.
Hernandez, 25, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and weapons charges in the June 2013 slaying of Lloyd, 27, of Dorchester, who was shot several times in an industrial park near the athlete’s North Attleborough home.
Hernandez’s alleged accomplices, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, are also facing murder charges and have pleaded not guilty. They will be tried separately.
Shayanna Jenkins, Hernandez’s fiancee, faces a perjury indictment in connection with the case. She has also pleaded not guilty, but prosecutors have petitioned Garsh to grant Jenkins immunity, raising the possibility that she may testify for the government at Hernandez’s trial. Garsh has not yet ruled on the immunity request, according to court records.
Hernandez also faces two counts of first-degree murder in Suffolk County in the slaying of two men in Boston’s South End in 2012. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty in that case; the trial is scheduled to begin later this year.
Separately Monday, prosecutors filed a sealed motion to bar the testimony of Dr. David J. Greenblatt, whom the defense wants to call to testify about the effects of PCP use on the brain.
Prosecutors have argued previously that there is no evidence that any defendant in the case used PCP on the date of Lloyd’s murder.
Source: Travis Andersen