ATTLEBORO, Mass. (AP) — Two men authorities say were in a car with former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez before one of his friends was shot to death were in custody on Friday, one charged with illegally carrying a gun and the other accused of being an accessory after murder.
Prosecutors, who this week charged Hernandez with murder, haven’t said who fired the shots that killed his friend Odin Lloyd, a Boston semi-pro football player.
Carlos Ortiz, who was arrested in Connecticut but was transferred to Massachusetts to face the gun charge, and Ernest Wallace, who walked into a South Florida police station to surrender, were identified earlier as being with Hernandez and Lloyd the night of his shooting death, a prosecutor said.
Ortiz was charged Friday with carrying an unlicensed firearm in North Attleborough on June 17, the day Lloyd was found shot to death near Hernandez’s home there. Details of the charge weren’t released.
Wallace, whose wanted poster was released Thursday night, surrendered in Miramar, Fla., police said. Authorities had been seeking Wallace on a charge of acting as an accessory after Lloyd’s murder. Details of that allegation also weren’t released.
Police arrested Hernandez on Wednesday at his home and charged him with orchestrating Lloyd’s execution-style shooting. Prosecutors said Hernandez orchestrated the killing because Lloyd talked to the wrong people at a nightclub.
Hernandez, Ortiz and Wallace were in a Nissan Altima with Lloyd shortly before his death, Bristol County, Mass., District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter said.
“We now have in custody the three individuals who were in the silver Nissan Altima,” Sutter said Friday when Ortiz was arraigned on the gun charge in Attleboro District Court.
All three men have ties to Bristol, Conn.: Hernandez grew up there, Ortiz had been living there and authorities had conflicting addresses for Wallace there and in Miramar.
Hernandez pleaded not guilty to murder and was denied bail Thursday. Ortiz also was being held without bail pending a court hearing on July 9. Wallace was taken to a jail in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., pending extradition proceedings, police said.
Hernandez’s lawyer argued in court that the case is circumstantial. He said Hernandez, who was cut by the Patriots the day he was arrested, wanted to clear his name.
Ortiz’s attorney, John Connors, said he will seek bail for his client at the July 9 hearing. He described Ortiz as a “gentle person” and said he will advise Ortiz to plead not guilty.
“I can say that his charge has nothing to do with homicide,” Connors said.
Wallace walked into the police station and told officers there was a warrant for his arrest, which officers confirmed by checking a computer database.
“He stated he knew he had a warrant because he saw himself on TV,” Miramar police Officer Gil Bueno said. “He was very cooperative. It was uneventful.”
An attorney for Wallace, David Meier, told The Boston Globe that his client was visiting his mother and other relatives in Miramar when he realized he was wanted in Massachusetts and went to police. Meier said Wallace intends to return to Massachusetts “as soon as possible.”
Earlier Friday, Ortiz appeared in Bristol Superior Court in Connecticut, where a judge authorized turning him over to a Massachusetts state trooper and a North Attleborough officer.
A friend and a relative of Ortiz said outside the courthouse that they were stunned by his arrest. They said Ortiz is the devoted father of two girls and a boy, all under the age of 9. Ortiz was unemployed recently but previously worked a long time at a Savers clothing store, they said.
They also said they couldn’t believe Ortiz could be part of a murder.
“He’s not that type of person. He has a good heart,” said friend Milton Montesdeoca, who added he didn’t know Hernandez and never heard Ortiz talk about the football star.
Also Friday, authorities said law enforcement officers recovered in Bristol a car Wallace was seen driving before he surrendered.
Meanwhile, Lloyd’s relatives were preparing for his funeral in Boston on Saturday. A relative said the service will be at Church of the Holy Spirit in the city’s Mattapan section.
Lloyd played for the Boston Bandits and was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee.
Authorities have said trouble that led to Lloyd’s killing happened June 14, when Lloyd went with Hernandez to a Boston nightclub. Hernandez became upset when Lloyd began talking with people Hernandez apparently didn’t like, prosecutors said.
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, prosecutors said. Authorities say the three men 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.
Prosecutors said an ammunition clip was found in Hernandez’s Hummer and matched the caliber of casings found at the scene of Lloyd’s killing.
Hernandez, who was drafted by the Patriots in 2010 and signed a five-year contract worth $40 million last summer, could face life in prison if convicted.
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