Ernest Wallace, charged in connection with the Aaron Hernandez murder case, was financially dependent on the former New England Patriot star from Bristol, a prosecutor said Friday.
Wallace, 41, has pleaded not guilty to accessory after the fact to the June 17 shooting death of Odin Lloyd. Hernandez is charged with first-degree murder in Lloyd’s death.
Wallace on Friday appeared in Attleboro District Court for a bail hearing,flanked by his well-known lawyer, Boston criminal defense attorney David Meier. Bail was set at $500,000 for the unemployed Bristol native described by Assistant District Attorney William McCauley as Hernandez’s “right-hand man.”
The wealthy NFL star provided “sole support” for Wallace and in the weeks leading up to the shooting was driving the silver Nissan Altima used the night of Lloyd’s death, McCauley said. Hernandez had rented the Altima, which he swapped the day after the shooting for a Chrysler 300 police found parked outside a Bristol apartment complex. Wallace, meanwhile, traveled down to his parents’ house in Florida, where he turned himself in to law enforcement after police issued a wanted poster for his arrest.
McCauley did not say anything during Friday’s hearing to suggest prosecutors have linked Wallace to the murder weapon, believed to be a .45 caliber Glock pistol, or its whereabouts. He did, however, suggest Wallace is connected to a purchase of two .22 caliber handguns from a Florida gun store in April.
Police have since seized both firearms during two separate incidents involving Hernandez. One occurred outside a Providence nightclub in May. Hernandez, McCauley said, was involved in that altercation. A witness told police he saw a “heavyset black male” tossing a gun into a car. That gun was not seized, but McCauley Friday indicated prosecutors believe the man was Wallace.
Investigators searching for the murder weapon used in the Lloyd homicide found the second .22 caliber gun on a street between Hernandez’s North Attleborough home and the park less than a mile away where Lloyd’s bullet-ridden body was discovered. Prosecutors say Wallace can be seen on surveillance footage carrying a handgun the night of Lloyd’s death – one of two handguns they saw on video from that night. They said they believe one of those guns was used in Lloyd’s murder.
Wallace’s fingerprints were also found on other ammunition prosecutors say was purchased in Florida and found during searches of Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough where the burly man is said to have spent a great deal of time.
Lloyd, who was dating Hernandez’s fiance’s sister, is also said to have spent time at the star tight end’s mansion. In the hour before he entered the Nissan Altima the night of his death, prosecutors say, he received five calls from Wallace. Investigators have not recovered Wallace’s phone.
McCauley on Friday said a woman “described as Hernandez’s aunt” helped Wallace travel to Florida after he returned to Connecticut. Wallace is known to have stayed at 114 Lake Ave., a Bristol home owned by Hernandez’s uncle. The aunt who previously lived at that address is deceased, but earlier this week police seized a phone belonging to Hernandez’s cousin, a close friend of Wallace’s who has attended each of his court appearances and lives at the Lake Avenue house.
Police have conducted multiple searches at that address, most recently on Wednesday. Hernandez is being investigated as a possible suspect in a July 2012 double homicide in Boston after investigators found a car they sought in connection with the case. A law enforcement source said the car, which was rented in Hernandez’s name, had been parked in the garage for about a year.
Meier said Wallace, while in his twenties, became friends with “individuals related to Hernandez.” He asked Attleboro District Judge Daniel O’Shea to set bail at $10,000, and attacked the credibility of Carlos Ortiz, the third suspect in the case, who gave to police a detailed account of the events of June 17.
Acknowledging that Wallace had turned himself in to authorities, O’Shea set bail at $500,000 as prosecutors requested.
Text By Jenny Wilson, Hartford Courant; Video By Fox CT