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Aaron Hernandez associate pleads not guilty to accessory charge

FALL RIVER — An associate of Aaron Hernandez on Friday denied helping him after the June killing that the former New England Patriot is accused of committing.

At his brief arraignment in Bristol Superior Court in Fall River, Carlos Ortiz, 27, pleaded not guilty to being an accessory after the fact of the fatal shooting of Odin Lloyd, 27, of Dorchester. Relatives of Lloyd and Ortiz attended the hearing, but neither family spoke to reporters afterward.

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Ortiz was held on $500,000 bail, and his lawyer, John J. Connors, did not contest the amount since he had not received grand jury minutes and other records outlining what his client allegedly did to prompt the charge. Ortiz, of Bristol, Conn., is due back in court on Nov. 20.

Wearing a tan dress shirt and tie, Ortiz showed no obvious emotion during the hearing. His mother waved as court officers led him away after the proceeding.

“I can’t say that he was an accessory, because I don’t believe he was an accessory,” Connors told reporters outside court. “He’s depressed and confused. He’s charged with a major crime.”

Prosecutors say Hernandez, 23, Ortiz, and another man, Ernest Wallace, 41, picked up Lloyd in Dorchester in the predawn hours of June 17 and drove him to an industrial park near Hernandez’s North Attleborough home. Lloyd was shot several times inside the park in an execution-style slaying, according to authorities.

Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter, declined on Friday to discuss Ortiz’s alleged activities after the killing and said details will come out in court.

Ortiz was allegedly captured on surveillance footage carrying a gun into Hernandez’s home shortly after the slaying. The weapon used in the slaying has not been recovered.

Court records show that Ortiz initially told investigators that he stayed inside the car in the industrial yard when Hernandez, Wallace, and Lloyd exited the vehicle. Prosecutors indicated last month that Ortiz now believes only Hernandez and Lloyd got out of the car.

Ortiz had been arraigned previously on a gun charge in Attleboro District Court. That charge will be dropped now that he faces a Superior Court indictment, Miliote said.

Statements to investigators by Ortiz and the accessory charge, instead of the gun count, have fueled speculation that he may be cooperating with authorities.

A conviction on the gun charge would have carried a mandatory minimum sentence because of Ortiz’s criminal record, but the accessory count does not mandate any jail time, legal specialists recently told the Globe. A judge could show leniency if Ortiz cooperates, one specialist said.

Connors did not answer directly when asked if Ortiz planned to testify against Hernandez.

“At this point, my client’s not making any statements,” Connors said. “I can’t say what’ll happen in the future, but he’s got his own case to worry about.”

Miliote also refused to say if Ortiz was cooperating with prosecutors. “We’re not going to comment on who’s talking to who,” Miliote said.“This is a homicide investigation . . . and we’re going to move forward with the cases without commenting on specifics.”

Wallace, like Ortiz, is charged as an accessory after the fact and is being held on $500,000 bail. Both men face up to seven years in state prison if convicted. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder and weapons charges and is being held without bail.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.
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