Accused Accomplice of NFL Star Heads to Trial

     FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CN) – Prosecutors want a Florida man extradited to Massachusetts to testify in the upcoming murder trial of an accused accomplice of former NFL star Aaron Hernandez.
     A petition filed last Friday in Broward County, Fla., seeks extradition of a Fort Lauderdale man who is said to be a “long-time friend” of Ernest Wallace, one of three defendants in the June 2013 murder Odin Lloyd.
     Wallace purportedly called his old friend Joseph Barney about three months before Odin was murdered, asking “if he knew of anyone in the state of Florida who could acquire firearms for him,” according to the petition filed by Florida Assistant State Attorney Kenneth Farnsworth.
     Barney did not get a gun for Wallace and is not under investigation for a crime, but still “has information that relates to [Lloyd’s] murder,” documents supporting the petition state.
     During Hernandez’ April 2015 trial, his attorneys argued that the former New England Patriots star was present for Lloyd’s murder, but was not the assailant who pulled the trigger and pumped six bullets into the 27-year-old.
     Nonetheless, the athlete was convicted of first-degree murder last April and sentenced to life in prison without parole for the slaying.
     Prosecutors in Bristol County, Mass., are now seeking a similar fate for Wallace, and they’re hoping to lean on Barney for help.
     With Wallace’s trial set to begin on Monday, Florida and Massachusetts officials are working side-by-side to secure Barney’s testimony on Wallace’s actions in the months leading up to the murder.
     The Florida petition is accompanied by a certificate issued by E. Susan Garsh, associate justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court, claiming that Barney “is a necessary and material witness to the conduct of the trial.”
     In another certificate, Bristol County prosecutor Patrick Bomberg called for Barney’s all-expenses-paid extradition and said his testimony “is not merely cumulative of other evidence.”
     Witness testimony was also a hallmark of the Hernandez trial. His fiancé, Shayanna Jenkins, testified that the former football star had asked her to remove a box from their Bristol County mansion the day after Lloyd’s body was found, admitting that she had left the box in a “random dumpster.”
     In exchange for her cooperation, prosecutors dropped the perjury and illegal disposing of evidence charges that they had originally filed against her.
     It was Jenkins and her sister Shaneah who had originally introduced Hernandez to Odin, who was dating the younger Jenkins sister at the time the two men met.
     Another witness, Hernandez’s cousin Tanya Singleton, was said to have driven Wallace to Georgia following the murder. Despite looming charges of criminal contempt and accessory charges, she refused to testify before the grand jury in Hernandez’s trial. It is unclear whether she will be asked to testify against Wallace.
     Although he was painted as the gunman by Hernandez’s attorneys, Wallace pleaded not guilty when the men were arrested for the murder, as did the third defendant, Carlos Ortiz.
     He also vowed to keep mum on details of the night Odin was shot from the time he was cuffed, according to reports. The Boston Globe published a story last year claiming that recordings from a jailhouse phone conversation between Wallace and Singleton caught the accused killer promising that he would “never go against the grain” with regard to police investigations.
     “‘Tell him no matter what, man, don’t think I’m la la la’ing,’ Wallace said in an apparent reference to ‘singing’ to law enforcement,” the Boston Globe report states.
     Wallace’s resolve will be tested beginning on March 14 when prosecution begins opening arguments against him. If their petition is granted, prosecutors will have Barney on the stand to add to their case.
     If the petition is not approved, Farnsworth has asked for an order to show cause as to why Barney should not be extradited.
     Fall River, Mass., criminal defense attorney John Connors, who was identified as Wallace’s lawyer in several reports, could not immediately be reached for comment.
     Trial proceedings for Ortiz are still pending.

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