Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez, who is accused of three murders in two counties, has lost his bid to suppress evidence from video surveillance cameras that were part of his own home security system.
Bristol Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh said the seizure of the video footage from Hernandez’s North Attleborough home by police was justified, given the evidence that investigators had already amassed in the Odin L. Lloyd murder case before asking for a search warrant.
“There was a reasonable basis for inferring that the home surveillance system likely captured the images of whoever entered, left, and returned to Hernandez’s house in the hours immediately before and after the shooting,” the judge wrote. “Without doubt, the surveillance video was related to the criminal activity under investigation.”
“There has been no showing that the scope of the warrant was impermissibly broadened beyond the foundation of probable cause,” Garsh wrote in a decision issued today.
Hernandez is facing charges that he murdered a total of three people in two different cases. He is charged in Suffolk County with murdering two men in 2012. He is charged in Bristol County with murdering Lloyd in in 2013.
Prosecutors have said that images from the surveillance video show Hernandez holding a gun in his home shortly after Lloyd was fatally shot in a nearby North Attleborough industrial park. The video also alllegedly shows two other men with Hernandez, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz. Both men, like Hernandez, have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges in Lloyd’s slaying.
Lloyd’s body was discovered on the afternoon of June 17, 2013, behind a building on John Dietsch Boulevard in North Attleborough, a half-mile from Hernandez’s spacious home. A state trooper applied for a search warrant on June 18 and police executed it at 7:01 p.m. that day, the judge’s ruling said.
Garsh summarized an affidavit prepared by a state trooper in support of the search warrant request that listed numerous pieces of evidence that, investigators felt, justified a search of Hernandez’s home.
While Hernandez’s lawyers argued that the evidence did not add up to probable cause to believe that Hernandez killed Lloyd, Garsh said it did not need to.
“Hernandez contends that this information does not create probable cause to believe that he killed Lloyd. It is not necessary, however, that a search warrant application establish a likelihood that the person whose premises is searched actually committed the crime as long as the evidence sought will aid in a particular apprehension or conviction,” she said.
Judge Garsh denied Hernandez’s motion to suppress the seizure of a digital video recorder, a 1000-gigabyte hard drive, and a cellphone.
Garsh also said the evidence cited by the trooper provided probable cause to believe that Hernandez’s cellphone would contain “evidence that would aid in the apprehension or conviction of Lloyd’s killer.”
She noted that the trooper’s affidavit said that Lloyd texted Hernandez a few hours before he was shot and called Hernandez at 12:50 a.m. and 1:03 a.m. that day. “It was thus likely that Hernandez’s cell phone would contain evidence of communications with Lloyd in the period before his death. ... There thus was probable cause to seize the cell phone.”
As for any other cellphone and three iPads that were seized, the judge said, “no action is taken at this time.”