Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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Sisterly Betrayal Takes Shape|in Aaron Hernandez Murder Trial

FALL RIVER, Mass. (CN) - The girlfriend of the man whose murder prosecutors have pinned on Aaron Hernandez gave somber testimony Tuesday about how the football star's guilt spread to her sister.

Hernandez, the 25-year-old former tight end for the New England Patriots, has been held without bail since his arrest in June 2013 for the murder that month of Odin Lloyd.

Two friends of Hernandez stand accused as accomplices, and prosecutors also brought perjury charges against Hernandez's fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, who introduced Lloyd, then dating her sister Shaneah, to Hernandez.

After weather delayed proceedings in the Hernandez trial, Shaneah Jenkins took the stand for the second time on Tuesday, testifying about her last contact with Lloyd before his body was found in an industrial park, shot six times.

It was a Sunday night, Father's Day, and they agreed to talk again in the morning before work.

Jenkins, wearing a warm yellow shirt with a large open collar, fought back a frown while recounting how the following day she had called Lloyd three times: once on her way to work, again at lunch, and then before she went to bed.

A call from police at 2 a.m. explained the missed calls, Jenkins said, her sniffling becoming more frequent and audible. (Click here for footage of the heart-wrenching testimony.)

Prosecutor William McCauley asked what she learned in her conversation with police. Jenkins opened her mouth to speak, but her throat clenched, strangling her words. Her gaze, normally directly on the prosecutor, fluttered about briefly before looking down. She wiped away a tear and looked up. "That Odin was dead," she responded, her voice trembling.

She continued, composed, but blinking constantly and swallowing visibly, telling how she left to visit Lloyd's family with her mother and her uncle.

Eventually, she made her way to her sister Shayanna's house at 6 a.m.

As she paced from her sister's living room to the dining room, she bumped into Hernandez. He asked if she was OK and rubbed her shoulders, Jenkins testified, adding that he told her, "He'd been through this death thing before. It'll get better with time."

Hernandez had nothing else to say about Lloyd's passing, Jenkins said.

At the defense table in the courtroom, Hernandez sat fidgeting, rocking back and forth in his chair, licking his lips. There was a constant crease in his forehead. When the camera transmitting proceedings to the courthouse's overflow room focused on him, he looked at it out of the corner of his eye, and then continued watching Jenkins testify.

Jenkins described how her sister began to act "secretive" the morning she was still reeling from the news of Lloyd's death.

"She kept receiving phone calls, and her responses were very short or she kept getting up and leaving when the phone rang," Jenkins said.

Shayanna also went to the basement several times, once with a new black garbage bag folded in her hand, Jenkins remembered.

She said she saw Shayanna in backyard, having exited through the basement.

Shayanna then came back into the house through the basement, asking to borrow her sister's car for a trip to the bank, needing money to pay the housekeepers, Jenkins said.

It was allegedly the first time Shayanna had ever asked to borrow her car.

Lloyd's girlfriend testified only for an hour and a half, before "qualification issues" with a juror led to another delay.

The juror, a middle-aged woman whom Judge E. Susan Garsh questioned in the morning, was ultimately dismissed.

Speaking to the court, Judge Garsh said there was evidence the juror had spoken about the case in previous years, and had an interest in being on the jury. The juror had said it would be hard to convict Hernandez without the murder weapon, had discussed items of evidence that the court ruled inadmissible, and had lied on the questionnaire about how many Patriots game she had attended, the court found.

"Discharge of the juror is indeed in the best interest of justice," Garsh said.

Murmurs in the courtroom alluded to the idea that the juror must have talked too much at a Super Bowl party this weekend, where the New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks.

Jenkins and Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, will testify on Wednesday.

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