FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts judge may impose a formal gag order in the murder case against former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez after his attorneys accused the state of allowing leaks that they say could jeopardize his right to a fair trial.
At a hearing in Fall River Superior Court on Monday, defense attorney Michael Fee blamed prosecutors for out-of-court statements reported in the media in an attempt to tarnish the ex-player.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder in the June shooting death of Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-professional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s girlfriend.
“Mr. Hernandez is entitled to a fair trial,” Fee told Judge Susan Garsh during the hourlong proceeding. “He is entitled to a jury panel that has not been poisoned by either false or sensational statements.”
In a November filing seeking a formal gag order, Hernandez’s attorneys said the state had “flouted” the rules of professional conduct and disregarded Garsh’s admonition against prejudicial out-of-court commentary.
The defense said the prosecution orchestrated a “publicity stunt” in October, when authorities served Miami Dolphin Michael Pouncey with a subpoena related to the case after playing the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Pouncey played football with Hernandez at the University of Florida.
The prosecution has not commented publicly on the subpoena.
In court Monday, Assistant District Attorney William McCauley denied the allegations, saying no leaks have come from the district attorney’s office or the investigative team.