By DENISE LAVOIE, AP Legal Affairs Writer
BOSTON (AP) _ A judge on Tuesday agreed to delay the trial of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez in the 2012 slaying of two Boston men after his lawyer said Hernandez’s defense team is busy trying to prepare for his trial in a 2013 killing.
In the 2012 case, Hernandez is charged with murder in the fatal shootings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado after a chance encounter at a nightclub. His trial was scheduled to begin in May.
But during a hearing in Suffolk Superior Court, one of Hernandez’s lawyers asked a judge to delay the trial by six months, saying his legal team cannot prepare effectively for that trial until Hernandez’s trial in the 2013 killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd is over. Jury selection in that case is scheduled to begin Jan. 9 in Fall River.
Attorney Charles Rankin said he and Hernandez’s lawyers are busy reviewing more than 500,000 pages of evidence turned over by prosecutors in the Lloyd case. He said that if prosecutors end up calling all of the more than 300 people on their witness list, the trial could conceivably last two to three months.
Rankin also said the judge in the Lloyd case plans to call in approximately 1,500 potential jurors to pick a jury from, a number that is even higher than the 1,200 expected to be called for the federal trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Judge Jeffrey Locke agreed to delay Hernandez’s Boston trial, but did not set a new date, saying he wants to see how long the trial in Lloyd’s murder takes before picking a firm date.
Hernandez, who is being held without bail, was not in court. His lawyers waived his right to be present for the hearing.
Prosecutors say Hernandez shot the two Boston men after one of them accidentally spilled a drink on him at the nightclub in June 2014. He’s accused of following the men, then opening fire on their car at a stop light, killing them and injuring a third man. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty.
In the Lloyd case, Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the June 2013 fatal shooting of Lloyd, who was dating Hernandez’s fiancee’s sister.
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