BRISTOL – A Bristol man linked to the Aaron Hernandez murder case was being extradited to Massachusetts Friday.
Carlos A. Ortiz appeared briefly in court before Massachusetts police took custody. He is expected to appear in court in North Attleborough, Mass. later Friday to faces charges of possessing a weapon while on probation.
Ortiz has told police he was in possession of a gun on the morning of June 17, the date investigators say Dorchester, Mass. resident Odin Lloyd, 27, was shot to death.
Hernandez, the former New England Patriots star and Bristol native, has been charged with murder in Lloyd’s death. Ortiz was apparently one of two men Hernandez told to meet him in Massachusetts on the day of the shooting. A second man, Ernest Wallace, is wanted by police, who say his car was located Friday.
Multiple media reports surfaced that the former NFL star is being investigated in connection with a 2012 double homicide in Boston – reports that Hernandez’s attorney Michael Fee refused to comment on when he arrived at Bristol Superior Court for Thursday’s hearing.
According to a report from the Boston Globe, officials said investigators now believe Lloyd may have had information about Hernandez’s role in the double slaying. At the hearing Thursday, Judge Renee Depuis asked prosecutors about a possible motive, but Assistant District Attorney William McCauley did not mention the Boston murders in his response.
Late Thursday night, as Boston police cars and investigators gathered at Hernandez’s house in North Attleborough, police said they were looking for Wallace as an accessory after the fact in Lloyd’s death. Massachusetts State Police said Wallace, who they considered armed and dangerous, was last seen driving a silver Chrysler 300 with Rhode Island registration 451-375. They said the car was found, but would not say where. Bristol police would not say if Wallace’s car was found in town.
At Thursday’s court hearing, McCauley disclosed new evidence in the case that suggests Hernandez had possession of a .45-caliber Glock pistol, which he said prosecutors have “good reason to believe is the murder weapon” based on analysis of crime scene evidence, which included .45-caliber shell casings found in the industrial area where Lloyd was killed.
Investigators have not recovered the murder weapon, but McCauley said police on Wednesday searched a condominium and a Humvee, both connected to Hernandez, and found boxes of .45-caliber ammunition and a clip in the console of the car.
Pointing to surveillance video showing Hernandez holding a Glock pistol the night of the murder — before and after Lloyd’s death — and a photo investigators found of the former professional football player holding the gun, McCauley said repeatedly that “the evidence of his guilt is overwhelming.”
Depuis refused bail, after saying the facts presented to her indicate a calculated attack and do not suggest “heat of passion” or “sudden combat.”
Defense attorney James Sultan had urged her to consider bail — acknowledging the severity of Hernandez’s charges, but pointing to his strong ties to North Attleborough, his stable and successful football career, the medical care his sports-related injuries require, and the fact that he had a fiancée and 8-month-old baby at home.
The purpose of holding somebody without bail, Sultan said, was to ensure appearance at trial. He argued that Hernandez wasn’t a flight risk — both because his celebrity status would make it difficult for him to disappear and saying that he didn’t attempt to flee during the past week of rumors about his impending arrest.
“He was happy to surrender,” Sultan said. “They wanted to arrest him in front of his house, drag him out in front of his fiancée … and the media.”
McCauley countered that Hernandez’s conduct since the investigation began contradicts Sultan’s argument. He said Hernandez went to a car rental agency hours after the murder and rented a new car for the two men he and Lloyd were with the night of the murder. Hernandez told his fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, to stop talking to police after they started questioning her, McCauley said.
Depuis sided with prosecutors, saying dryly that Hernandez “has the means to flee and an ankle bracelet isn’t going to stop him.”
Jenkins, who was in court again Thursday, started sobbing at the decision. Hernandez, who had blown her a kiss and mouthed “I love you” when led into the court, wiped tears throughout the hearing and craned his neck to see his high school sweetheart once more before being taken back into custody.
Ortiz had been held in Hartford on $1.5 million bail after being charged Wednesday as a fugitive from justice. In a statement released Thursday, New Britain state’s attorney Brian Preleski said the arrest came after Massachusetts authorities sought help in the Lloyd homicide investigation.
“Both the Bristol Police Department and the New Britain state’s attorney’s office will continue to provide whatever assistance we can in connection with this investigation. As the investigation is ongoing, we can have no further comment at this time,” Preleski said.
Ortiz’s original charge in Massachusetts was violation of probation, Bristol police said. A Massachusetts arrest warrant application indicates that Massachusetts police interviewed Ortiz on Tuesday in Bristol and he admitted possessing a firearm in North Attleborough on June 17, while on probation. The application does not mention Hernandez or the Lloyd slaying.
All records have been sealed in the case, but previous court records indicate that Ortiz has convictions for larceny and criminal mischief. He was on probation at the time of his arrest Wednesday afternoon.
Ortiz had waived his right to an extradition hearing.
According to prosecutors, a combination of cellphone records, text messages, surveillance video — including some from the 14 cameras inside and around Hernandez’s home — and Bubblicious bubble gum helped them piece together the last few hours of Lloyd’s life and Hernandez’s role in ending it.
McCauley — at the arraignment Wednesday and again at Thursday’s hearing — recited was he said points to Hernandez’s involvement, including Hernandez’s anger toward the victim, videos showing Hernandez’s rented car in the area where Lloyd was shot and a video showing Hernandez walking into his home with the gun prosecutors believe was used to kill Lloyd.
Lloyd, 27, was shot five times, including twice in the chest while he was on the ground, the prosecutor said.
According to McCauley, Lloyd’s sister told investigators she saw her brother get into a silver Nissan Altima driven by Hernandez about 2:30 a.m. on June 17. She told police there were three people in the car, and McCauley said the two other men were friends of Hernandez’s from Connecticut. Hernandez texted one of them twice earlier in the night imploring him to get to his house, McCauley said.
Surveillance cameras outside Hernandez’s house show his two friends arriving and the three of them leaving in the Altima about 1:12 a.m., with Hernandez driving, McCauley said. They stopped at a gas station off Route 128 where Hernandez bought some blue Bubblicious cotton candy gum.
They picked up Lloyd in Dorchester and started driving back toward North Attleborough. McCauley said that Hernandez had a conversation with Lloyd about some things that Lloyd had said at a nightclub on the previous Friday night. McCauley said that Hernandez told Lloyd he just “couldn’t trust anyone anymore.” McCauley did not say how police know about that conversation.
At 3:07 a.m., Lloyd texted his sister saying, “did you see who I am with.” At 3:11 he texted “hello” and then at 3:19 his sister texted back “sorry my phone was dead.”
At 3:22 a.m. Lloyd texted his sister “NFL.” His final communication at 3:23, another text to his sister, said “just so you know.”
At the same time Lloyd was sending the final message to his sister, Hernandez’s car was seen on camera at the entrance to the industrial park where Lloyd’s bullet-riddled body was found later that day, McCauley said.
The cameras show Hernandez’s car going down the gravel road to the industrial area and coming back out four minutes later, at 3:27 a.m. McCauley said workers nearby heard gunshots, as many as five, at the same time Hernandez’s car would have been at the park.
Lloyd was shot twice in the arm, once in the back and then twice in the chest. McCauley said the last two shots to the chest were fired at close range with the shooter likely standing over Lloyd’s prone body.
Surveillance video from Hernandez’s house shows him returning home in the Altima at 3:29 a.m. There were only three people in the car when it got back to the house, and two of them were seen carrying guns – neither of which has been recovered.
McCauley has also said Hernandez tried to cover up the crime. That night, he said, police discovered that the six to eight hours of video surveillance around the time of the slaying from inside Hernandez’s house was missing.
The morning after the murder, McCauley said, Hernandez returned the Altima to the rental car company and got a new car. Police later discovered that it had been cleaned at the rental car place and the garbage from the car had been thrown into a Dumpster.
Police went through the Dumpster and found a .45 shell casing that matched the ones found at the crime scene, McCauley said. Next to the casing in the trash they found a piece of chewed cotton candy flavored Bubblicious gum.
“He made arrangements to meet with the victim. He orchestrated his execution. He entered his house with a gun and disposed of it,” McCauley said at the arraignment.
Hernandez’s next court date is July 24. At Fee’s urging, the judge issued a gag order prohibiting all parties from discussing the case and sealed the arrest affidavit.
David Owens, Jenny Wilson and Dave Altimari, Hartford Courant
Courant reporters Suzanne Carlson and Don Stacom contributed to this story.