Aaron Hernandez Faces February Trial Start

     BOSTON (CN) — The new attorney representing convicted killer Aaron Hernandez scored a delay Tuesday for the start of the former football star’s next murder trial.
     Judge Jeffrey Locke had previously been seeking quick start to the trial this fall, but defense attorney Jose Baez said that did not leave him enough time to properly acclimate himself to the case.
     Baez, who formally joined Hernandez’s legal team about a month ago, requested a start date in spring 2017.
     Florida-based Baez, who previously helped win the acquittal of accused killer Casey Anthony, rejected Judge Locke’s attempt at a compromise with an early January start time.
     “I think that may be too soon,” Baez said, citing concerns that the case’s high profile could complicate the pretrial process.
     “We’re going to have unique jury issues, given the publicity, given the prior case,” Baex said. “I think that might require some litigation prior to panelling a jury.”
     Hernandez is already serving a life sentence after a jury convicted him last year for the first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd.
     His upcoming trial in Suffolk County concerns separate murder charges for the 2012 drive-by shooting deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston’s South End neighborhood.
     The former tight end for the New England Patriots wore a blue suit for his court appearance Tuesday afternoon.
     Though mostly quiet, Hernandez occasionally whispered into Baez’s ear. The pair shared a chuckle early in the hearing when Baez mistakenly referred to Hernandez as “Aaron Rodriguez.”
     “I think my mind is still in Florida,” Baez said after correcting himself.
     After about 15 minutes of sidebar discussion, Judge Jeffrey Locke set the start of the Hernandez trial for Feb. 13. He said the trial date should be considered “firm.”
     Aside from scheduling concerns, the hearing addressed a few of the defense’s discovery requests.
     Baez repeatedly argued that he needed to see the commonwealth’s witness list to better prepare his defense. Judge Locke insisted meanwhile that the prosecution’s witness list is traditionally made available at the final pretrial conference, which is usually about two weeks before a trial starts.
     The prosecution said that they were willing to share their tentative witness list, which includes more than 300 names. They also said they would be willing to give some indication as to which witnesses were least likely to be called.
     “I think it’s a great start to know who they are definitely not going to call,” Baez said, noting that he still would like to see a final list as soon as it is available.
     Baez has also requested to inspect the evidence, and has begun negotiating that with the prosecution, who told the judge that the inspection would likely happen within the next 30 days.
     Hernandez will return to court on Wednesday, Oct. 5, for a status hearing.

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