By DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press
BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) _ A man arrested in Connecticut in connection with the murder case against former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was being sent to Massachusetts on Friday, and investigators found a car they had been searching for.
A judge in Bristol on Friday ordered Carlos Ortiz turned over to Massachusetts authorities.
New Britain State’s attorney said investigators arrested the 27-year-old Ortiz in Bristol on Wednesday as part of the inquiry into the slaying of Boston semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.
Hernandez is charged with murder in the slaying of Lloyd near Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough, Mass. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail.
Ortiz was charged in Connecticut as a fugitive from justice. His public defender, Alfonzo Sirica, declined to comment about the case.
Also Friday, Massachusetts authorities said law enforcement officers recovered a car that is linked to a third man they have connected to Lloyd’s killing.
North Attleborough police and the Bristol County district attorney’s office said a 2012 Chrysler 300 they were looking for had been found. Neither agency would say whether Ernest Wallace, the man authorities are seeking on a charge of acting as an accessory after Lloyd’s murder, is now in custody.
Authorities revealed Thursday night that they were seeking Wallace, who they said should be considered armed and dangerous and who was last seen driving the silver Chrysler with Rhode Island tags.
As the murder case led investigators to Hernandez’ hometown of Bristol, people there remembered him as a fun-loving teenager at Bristol Central High School.
Some recalled him struggling with the death of his father, Dennis, in 2006 but remaining determined to become a pro athlete, spending hours working out before and after school. As Bristol police assist Massachusetts investigators, the community has been left to ponder the legal troubles of the hometown hero with the $40 million pro contract and a new family of his own.
A former high school teammate, Andrew Ragali, 24, said Hernandez is not the troubled street hood he has seen portrayed on television.
“You could maybe say he was immature, but he wasn’t a gang-banger at all,” Ragali said. “I think when he went to college things might have changed, hanging around with the wrong people, but in high school, he wasn’t like that at all.”
Police arrested Hernandez Wednesday at his Massachusetts mansion and charged the 23-year-old with orchestrating Lloyd’s execution-style shooting, allegedly because the victim had talked to the wrong people at a nightclub.
A judge denied Hernandez’ bail appeal Thursday in a Massachusetts courtroom, where a prosecutor said a Hummer belonging to Hernandez turned up an ammunition clip matching the caliber of casings found at the scene of Lloyd’s killing.
Hernandez’s lawyer argued his client is not a risk to flee and the case against him is circumstantial.
On June 16, the night before the slaying, a prosecutor said, Hernandez texted two unidentified friends and asked them to hurry to Massachusetts from Connecticut.
A few minutes later, he texted Lloyd to tell him he wanted to get together, the prosecutor said. Authorities say the three picked up Lloyd at around 2:30 a.m. June 17, drove him to an industrial park near Hernandez’s home and shot him five times. They have not said who fired the shots.
In Connecticut, Bristol is known to many as the home of ESPN, Otis Elevator and the Hernandez family.
Aaron and his older brother D.J. Hernandez each earned honors as the state’s Gatorade high school player of the year, although they played several years apart at Bristol Central.
Aaron would often visit his brother at UConn, and at one point verbally committed to follow D.J. and play for UConn himself. But Aaron signed instead with University of Florida, where he became an All-American.
Ragali recalled seeing Hernandez again, years after high school, at a Hartford bar. He described him as quieter, with more tattoos. But said he was very nice, asked about his family and took pictures with his girlfriend.
It was after his father’s death that Hernandez began smoking marijuana and hanging out with a rough crowd, Hernandez’s mother, Terri, told USA Today in 2009.
“The shock of losing his dad, there was so much anger,” she said at the time.
Hernandez’s mother works in the office at the local South Side elementary school, and other family members still live in Bristol.
“All I can say is that he will be cleared of all these charges in the end,” she told the Bristol Press outside her home Wednesday. “Just let it play out until the end.”
On Wednesday night, police searched a Bristol home and garage owned by Andres Valderrama, whom WFSB-TV identified as an uncle. A message left at the home Thursday seeking comment wasn’t returned.
The Patriots, who cut Hernandez following his arrest, drafted him in 2010 and signed him last summer to a five-year contract worth $40 million.
Hernandez could face life in prison if convicted.
Eaton-Robb reported from Hartford, Conn. Associated Press writers Michelle R. Smith in Fall River, Mass., and Bridget Murphy in Boston contributed to this report.
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