Juror dismissed in murder trial of ex-NFLer Aaron Hernandez
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — The judge overseeing the trial of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez has dismissed a juror for personal reasons.
Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh did not elaborate Friday on why the male juror was dismissed.
He is the third juror to be dismissed from the trial. Fifteen jurors remain, and three of those will be alternates chosen randomly after closing arguments.
After the juror was dismissed, Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, took the stand. She was granted immunity before she testified.
She and Hernandez have a 2-year-old daughter together and were high school sweethearts.
Jenkins has pleaded not guilty to perjury in connection with the case. Prosecutors say she lied to a grand jury investigating the killing.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
The murder trial of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez resumed Friday after a brief delay while the judge questioned nine jurors.
The reason for the delay was not immediately explained by the judge. It came the day Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, was expected to be called to the stand.
Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh began the session by saying she had received a juror note and calling up Hernandez, his lawyers and prosecutors to the bench. She then brought in nine of the 16 jurors and questioned them privately while Hernandez and the lawyers huddled around.
After about 50 minutes, they ended questioning and began arguing about what prosecutors can ask Jenkins when she takes the stand. They then briefly interrupted that argument and called one of the jurors back for brief, private questioning again before resuming the arguments over Jenkins’ testimony.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to the June 17, 2013, killing of Odin Lloyd, 27, who was dating Jenkins’ younger sister, Shaneah. Lloyd was found shot to death at an industrial park less than a mile from the home that Shayanna and Hernandez share.
Shayanna Jenkins was seen at court Friday morning with her lawyer before the session began. Shaneah was sitting in the front row of the courtroom with Lloyd’s family.
Shayanna Jenkins, 25, was granted immunity by the court in February, which means she can be compelled to testify or face time behind bars. There had been a question about whether prosecutors would call Jenkins, who has been in a relationship with Hernandez, 25, since high school and is the mother of his 2-year-old daughter.
Jenkins has pleaded not guilty to perjury. Prosecutors say she lied to a grand jury investigating the killing.
The sisters introduced Lloyd and Hernandez in 2012 during a game at Gillette Stadium.
Shayanna Jenkins has been coming to court sporadically and sitting behind Hernandez, whispering “I love you,” to him and occasionally joking with him. She has not appeared in court since March 6.
When Shaneah was called to testify earlier in the trial, Shayanna scribbled notes and then passed them to Hernandez’s lawyers, occasionally sighing as her sister spoke.
Surveillance video played for the jury showed Shayanna removing from their home a garbage bag with what appeared to be a box inside. Prosecutors said before the trial that they believe the box contained the murder weapon, which has never been found.
MICHELLE R. SMITH
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