Friday, September 29, 2023
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Hernandez Fiancee Does Her Best Tammy Wynette in Murder Trial

FALL RIVER, Mass. (CN) - Though she said it was Aaron Hernandez who had her remove a box from their house the day after Odin Lloyd was found dead, the former football star's fiancee gave up little else otherwise in the murder trial Monday.

"I don't know," "I don't recall" and "I don't remember" were among the most common refrains for Shayanna Jenkins.

Once, she replied, "I want to say yes and no. I'm not sure."

Jenkins took the stand as part of an immunity deal with prosecutors on charges that she lied to the grand jury and disposed of evidence that allegedly tied her former Patriots tight end beau to Lloyd's June 2013 murder.

It was Jenkins and her sister, Lloyd's girlfriend at the time of his death, who introduced the two men.

Testifying Monday, Shayanna gave life to the shiftiness that her sister, Shaneah Jenkins, had described to jurors last month.

The prosecution played footage from her home-security camera and showed her photos, phone bills and receipts, but nothing could help Jenkins recollect certain information from the day after the bullet-ridden body of her sister's boyfriend was found in an industrial park less than a mile away from Hernandez's home.

Shaneah had told jurors that she went to her sister's home for comfort that day but found Shayanna acting "secretive," repeatedly taking phone calls in another room.

Shayanna could not recall Monday who was on the other end of those calls. "I assume it was Aaron," she said.

Phone records show that he called her several times that day, but Shayanna could not remember what they spoke about or why her home-security footage shows that she kept going to the basement when he called.

Prosecutors played footage of Jenkins leaving her house through the backdoor with a box wrapped in a black plastic bag and covered with baby clothes.

Asked why, the fiancee said she did it so as to "not expose" the contents to anyone, but no one in specific. She was just "in general" trying to keep private the box that Hernandez said was "important" for her to remove.

While leaving with the box, which she never looked inside of, Jenkins went to get "baby stuff" and go to an ATM, she said, unable to remember the order in which she ran the errands.

Jenkins named three possible cities where she could have left the box in a "random dumpster." She did not know where she bought the diapers with which she later returned home, and she was "uncertain" as to why she withdrew $800 from an ATM that day.

It could have been to pay the house cleaners, Jenkins said, before prosecutors produced a copy of a check Jenkins wrote that day for the house cleaners. She had no other plausible explanation as to why she needed the money.


Her sister, Shaneah, who sat next to Lloyd's mother in a row of mostly women dressed in bright greens, purples and yellows, shoulders pressed together to fit everyone, rose with a tear-streaked face and audible sniffles to leave the courtroom after seeing photos of Jenkins at an ATM and hearing that the photograph did not help her remember where she could have left the box or at what point she was rid of it.

The prosecution's repetitive line of questioning did not intrigue most in the small courtroom, with six rows of seating, but one in the audience appeared riveted. Hernandez's head swiveled back and forth from the prosecutor to Jenkins, like he was watching a tennis ball at the finals of the Sony Open. Jenkins never looked at Hernandez.

Though he began the trial with his mother, brother and finance in the row behind him, smiling and chatting, that network of support was not apparent Monday.

When pressed as to why she could not remember so much from that day, Jenkins said she drove around a lot because of "nerves." She was nervous "about everything going on" and having to "play a neutral role" for her sister and Hernandez.

Jenkins also claimed not to remember whether she had a follow-up conversation with Hernandez about the box's whereabouts.

The testimony did not depart from the position Jenkins originally took in the case. Asked about her perjury charges, Jenkins said she did not lie, but that "there was confusion with the questioning."

Cross-examination from Hernandez's attorney aimed at portraying Jenkins as a regular person who met her future husband in middle school, where the two passed notes behind teachers' backs and talked on the telephone long into the night.

Jenkins was so eager to consent with everything defense counsel said that she confirmed she graduated high school in 2010. "You don't have to agree with everything I say," Hernandez's attorney reacted with a laugh before correcting for both of them. She graduated in 2007.

In her first expression of emotion throughout the duration of the trial, Jenkins blotted her eyes with tissues as the attorney led her through a time in 2011 when she caught Hernandez cheating on her by going through his phone and seeing things she "didn't like."

Jenkins said their "bond was too strong to let each other go," and she decided to accept "compromises on his behavior that included his infidelity." By early 2012, the couple had plans to get pregnant and buy a house together. Shaneah met and began dating Lloyd that summer.

The defense ended its cross-examination by asking Jenkins if the box she "disposed of" smelled like anything. She said it smelled like marijuana.

A prosecutor followed up by asking if this was the first time she had relayed this information about the box. She confirmed it was.

Though Jenkins' testimony was not damming for Hernandez, it certainly did not help his case, which is still coasting off an evidentiary ruling from the Supreme Judicial Court last week that went in his favor.

The March 26 ruling blocked testimony prosecutors wanted to admit from Robert Paradis, a witness who claims to have heard Hernandez refer to a .45 - the same type of weapon used to kill Lloyd - while they were in California.

Paradis also said Hernandez forgot the gun at his house, where, although he never saw it, he felt it wrapped in a shirt. In affirming a decision by the trial court to bar that testimony, the appellate panel found that its omission would not hinder fair prosecution.

Having been held without bail for roughly 15 months, former New England Patriots tight end Hernandez entered his ninth week of trial Monday.

Once it concludes, Hernandez faces a separate, unrelated trial on two counts of first-degree murder for the July 2012 killings of two men in Boston's South End.

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