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Judge denies prosecution request for Hernandez phone calls

FALL RIVER — A Bristol Superior Court judge denied a prosecution request Friday in the murder case against jailed former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez for the athlete’s visitor logs and recordings of phone calls that he has made behind bars.

The motion was rejected at the hearing because it lacked a sworn affidavit laying out who in the jail is providing information about the calls. However, Judge E. Susan Garsh also ruled that prosecutors can file the request again, but the new motion must include the necessary affidavit.

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“Without knowing how many layers [of people] there are, there’s no way to determine whether the hearsay is reliable,” Garsh said regarding the calls.

Prosecutors filed the motion last week seeking the recordings and logs, alleging in court papers that during the conversations, Hernandez has discussed his “subjective belief about his criminal liability” in the murder of Odin Lloyd and has used “coded messages to communicate with persons outside of jail.”

Hernandez, 24, has pleaded not guilty to murder and weapons charges in the execution-style slaying of Lloyd, of Dorchester, whose body was found near the athlete’s North Attleborough home in June. Hernandez is being held without bail at the Bristol County House of Correction and Jail in Dartmouth.

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Garsh and the lead prosecutor, William McCauley, had a tense exchange during the hearing when McCauley informed her that the government obtained some of the recordings more than two weeks ago but have not yet shared them with the defense.

“Why haven’t they already been turned over?” Garsh asked. She ordered prosecutors to do so by Monday.

Prosecutors contend that jail officials regularly turn over such recordings to them, and they are seeking a formal judicial order for certified copies of Hernandez’s calls to be entered as evidence.

“There is a protocol that we’re trying to comply with,” McCauley said. “There is nothing underhanded about what we are trying to do.”

But a lawyer for Hernandez, James L. Sultan, blasted the request during the hearing.

“If this is what they need to try the case, one wonders about all the representations they’ve made about how strong” their case is, he said.

Among the other topics discussed was a defense request for notes and interviews from law enforcement personnel outside Massachusetts, including a June interview with one man identified in court papers as Oscar Hernandez.

McCauley said an unspecified “national agency” spoke with Oscar Hernandez in Florida, and prosecutors are working to obtain the relevant items from that agency.

Defense counsel said in a recent court filing that Oscar Hernandez “may be an important witness in the case. The defense does not believe it has received any discovery at all” about his statements to investigators.

It was not clear Friday if Oscar and Aaron Hernandez are related. Sultan would not answer questions about him outside court, and prosecutors released no information about his connection to the case.

A call to a number listed for Oscar Hernandez in Belle Glade, Fla., was not returned Friday night.

Hernandez is due back in court for a pretrial hearing June 16. Dressed in a dark blazer and blue tie, he mouthed “I love you” to relatives at Friday’s hearing.

Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward, also attended and kept her gaze fixed on Hernandez for much of the proceedings, at one point shaking her head.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.
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