FALL RIVER, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com/AP) â An associate of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder in the shooting death of a man near Hernandez's Massachusetts home last summer.
Ernest Wallace was arraigned Thursday in Superior Court in Fall River. His attorneys questioned whether this is all a legal strategy by the state. They point out these are just beefed up charges from the charges that had already been given, but the evidence hasn't changed. They think the state is trying to apply pressure on the defendants, who have been uncooperative, to try to get them to talk.
Wallace pleaded not guilty to upgraded charges of murder in the death of semi pro football player Odin Lloyd. Wallace, and another Hernandez associate, Carlos Ortiz, had previous pleaded not guilty to lesser charges of accessory to murder in the same case.
But a Grand Jury later returned new indictments against the associates, and it court Thursday, the charges were formally read and accused Wallace of assaulting and beating Lloyd with intent to murder him, the night he was murdered last June in North Attleboro.
Outside court, Wallace's defense attorney questioned state prosecutors' motives, and said his client is looking forward to his day in court.
âThe timing of these new charges speaks for itself,â Wallaceâs attorney David Meyer said.
But if there are ulterior motives with the new charges for Wallace and Ortiz, a spokesman for the Bristol County District Attorney is talking about it, and seemed to say the new charges should be looked at, at face value.
âThis has been a meticulously investigated case from day one. We've said it's been an ongoing investigation from day one. It's been 11 months. Evidence has been presented from the Grand Jury and the Grand Jury chooses to indict,â Gregg Miliote, from the County District Attorneyâs Office, said.
The family of Lloyd was in court Thursday, one family member wearing a pin with a picture of Lloyd, but didn't wish to comment.
âThey're a very strong family. Close knit. Just very strong, that's really the adjective that I would use for them,â Miliote said.
An attorney for Hernandez's cousin, Tanya Singleton, was in the same courtroom Thursday. Singleton was not present in court. She is on house arrest at the family's Lake Avenue home in Bristol, Conn. Her attorney told to the judge that she remains there with her children, and is fighting a new bout with breast cancer, which she has been dealing with since 2011.
âShe's had a turn for the worst with her health. Her cancer has reoccurred despite the efforts of her treating physician to prevent that from happening and she really needs to concentrate on that right now,â Singletonâs lawyer Peter Parker said.
Singleton was also indicted Thursday by another Grand Jury in Suffolk County for criminal contempt for refusing to testify to that Grand Jury about a double murder outside a Boston nightclub in 2012 that Hernandez is also accused in.
As for the Lloyd murder case in Bristol County, Singleton's attorney also brought up the possibility of trying Singleton with other accused co-conspirators as a way to move the cases along and said that would be Singleton's preference.
âI think it makes sense. I think ultimately we're going to want to be tried with them,â Parker said.
Also filed in Bristol County Court Thursday, a motion to dismiss charges against Hernandez of first degree murder and unlawful possession of a firearm on the grounds that the defense says the state has no forensic evidence linking Hernandez to the shooting and no motive for him to kill Lloyd.
When asked to comment, the DA's office said they will respond in writing.
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