Criminal Justice

Even if ex-NFL player Hernandez didn't fire gun, prosecutors will deal with others, lawyer predicts

An “interesting choice of words” by a prosecutor during a Massachusetts court hearing last week suggests that authorities may believe someone other than Aaron Hernandez actually fired the five shots that killed Odin Lloyd.

But whether or not the government thinks the former New England Patriots tight end was the shooter in the slaying they say he “orchestrated,” he is still likely to be treated as the main target in the criminal case over Lloyd’s death last month, says a lawyer who previously represented another ex-NFL player in a murder case.

“They want the high-profile defendant. That’s always the case,” attorney David Rudolf told USA Today. “And if he isn’t the shooter, and they have to offer the shooter a deal to get him, they probably will, if that’s what it takes.”

He said he believes prosecutors are already talking to two co-defendants about potential plea deals.

So far, it is Hernandez who faces the most serious charge—premeditated murder—in the slaying of Lloyd. Two co-defendants, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, were at last report facing firearms and accessory-after-the-fact charges, respectively. Ortiz has pleaded not guilty, and Wallace hasn’t yet been arraigned.

Lawyers for both of the co-defendants declined comment when contacted by USA Today.

Attorney Michael Fee represents Hernandez. He called the charges against his client “a circumstantial case, not a strong case” at his client’s arraignment.

See also: “New England Patriots’ Aaron Hernandez charged with murder and axed from team” “Lawyer for shot man suing ex-NFL player Aaron Hernandez: ‘You can’t make this stuff up’”

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