FALL RIVER — The prosecutors who have charged Aaron Hernandez with murder insisted Monday that no one on their investigative team has leaked information to reporters covering the sensational case against the former New England Patriots star.
William McCauley said during a hearing in Bristol Superior Court that any suggestion that prosecutors “have moles out there leaking information” is not only false, but could bias the public against the government’s case.
“We are playing fair,” said McCauley.
He was responding to a defense motion to have Judge E. Susan Garsh issue a formal order reiterating that leaks are prohibited and outlining steps that both sides should take to prevent them.
“Mr. Hernandez is entitled to a fair trial,” one of his lawyers, Michael Fee, said during the hearing. “He is entitled to a jury panel that not been poisoned by false, sensational statements.”
Fee referred to news reports that Miami Dolphins player Mike Pouncey received a grand jury subpoena in October to testify about alleged gun trafficking linked to Hernandez. Those reports identified unnamed law enforcement sources or people close to the probe, Fee said.
McCauley told Garsh that he has spoken to everyone involved in the investigation and is satisfied that none of them have been leaking information.
Garsh directed both sides to file proposed language in coming weeks outlining which “reasonable steps” can be taken to prevent unauthorized statements to the press.
James Sultan, another lawyer for Hernandez, said the defense team is still awaiting a number of items they have asked prosecutors to turn over, including any forensic evidence they plan to introduce at trial. McCauley said prosecutors are turning over evidence as they receive it from investigators.
Hernandez wore a dark suit jacket and tie and looked briefly toward the family of Odin Lloyd, 27, the Dorchester man he is accused of killing June 17.
Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward, began to cry when Hernandez entered and had to leave the courtroom momentarily. Ward filed a wrongful death lawsuit last week against Hernandez.
Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, and his mother, Terri, also attended Monday’s hearing, as did a small group of spectators who wore Hernandez jerseys and pins bearing his photo.
He looked toward Jenkins and his mother as he was being led away in handcuffs when the hearing ended, and his mother called out, “Merry Christmas.”
Jenkins has been charged with perjury in allegedly lying to the grand jury hearing evidence in the murder case. She has pleaded not guilty and remains free on personal recognizance.
Three other people are also facing charges in connection to the case.
Hernandez, 24, has pleaded not guilty to murder and weapons violations and is being held without bail. He appeared relaxed during the hearing and repeatedly smiled as he chatted with one of his lawyers.
He is due back in court for a pretrial hearing Feb. 5.