FALL RIVER — The day after Odin L. Lloyd was found dead, Aaron Hernandez told his fiancee to remove a box from their home, the fiancee said in Bristol Superior Court Friday.
Prosecutors have said they believe the box contained the murder weapon, and the fiancee’s admission could show that Hernandez was anxious to get rid of evidence that implicated him in Lloyd’s June 2013 killing — boosting the prosecution’s case against the former NFL star.
“I was instructed to take it out of the home,” Shayanna Jenkins told Bristol Assistant District Attorney William
McCauley as Hernandez sat no more than 20 feet away at the defense table.
In a shaky voice, Jenkins, who has been granted immunity by the prosecution in exchange for her testimony, said that she thought it was important to remove the box and not be seen taking it out of the house.
Jenkins did not identify what was in the box. But later in the day, she told jurors that she had once seen a gun in the house.
Jenkins’s statements, some of them made before the jury entered the courtroom Friday, contradicted her earlier grand jury testimony. Her testimony Friday was a highly anticipated development in the eight-week-long trial, and drew dozens of reporters and curious members of the public who packed the courtroom and an overflow room set up in the courthouse’s law library.
Jenkins’s 23-year-old sister, Shaneah, who was Lloyd’s girlfriend at the time of his death, was also in the courtroom Friday, and sat next to Lloyd’s mother.
The case has strained ties between the sisters, who were once close. On the stand, Jenkins paused when McCauley asked her about their relationship.
“We’re estranged, kind of,” Jenkins said.
Prosecutors have said that Hernandez orchestrated Lloyd’s killing with the help of his friends Ernest “Bo” Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, who are also charged with the murder and will be tried separately.
Prosecutors have charged Jenkins with perjury, alleging she lied 29 times to a grand jury about her actions after the killing of Lloyd. Prosecutors said she told grand jurors she couldn’t remember why she removed a box from the house or where she put it, that she never spoke with Wallace in the days after the killing, and that she and Hernandez did not talk about Lloyd’s death.
But during questioning by a prosecutor Friday, before the jury returned to the courtroom, Jenkins said she had asked Hernandez if he had anything to do with the killing of Lloyd, a 27-year-old semiprofessional football player whose bullet-riddled body was found in an industrial yard in North Attleborough, minutes from Hernandez’s mansion.
“He said, ‘No,’ ” Jenkins said.
Prosecutors have given Jenkins immunity to testify, which means she cannot be prosecuted for anything she says under oath. But it was not clear whether she would say anything that could incriminate Hernandez, the father of her 2-year-old daughter.
Until Friday, Jenkins had not been in the courtroom for about two weeks. Before that, she had often been a steady presence in Courtroom 7, sitting directly behind the defense table and smiling sweetly at Hernandez each time they made eye contact. “I love you,” they would often say to each other.
On Friday, Jenkins rarely looked at Hernandez. After she was questioned in the morning, she mouthed something to him as she walked past the defense table. But she avoided his gaze later when she testified before the jury and described the hours after Lloyd’s killing.
Prosecutors said Lloyd was shot sometime around 3:30 in the morning on June 17. Later that day, Jenkins testified, Hernandez was relaxing at their pool with Ortiz and Wallace. The men were enjoying the sun and sipping fruit smoothies Jenkins said she made for them.
Later that night, the police came to the house.
Hernandez went to the North Attleborough police station, where he texted and called Jenkins several times and told her to meet with Wallace and give him money.
Jenkins told jurors that she got in her Audi with her daughter and drove “for what seemed like forever” to meet Wallace. Eventually, they met at a McDonald’s in Rhode Island, where Jenkins said she gave Wallace $500 she took out of a nearby ATM. Jenkins said Ortiz was with Wallace that night.
Jenkins sometimes struggled when the prosecutor’s questioning became tedious.
For example, he asked her about the various routes she took through Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island when she met with Wallace. And she was questioned about the contents of the smoothies she said she made.
Jenkins also seemed to have a difficult time remembering key details, such as the size of a gun she said she once found inside a drawer in the couple’s kitchen, or how Hernandez responded when she gave him a “stern look” for keeping the weapon around.
The prosecutor held up a Glock 45 — the model of gun prosecutors said was used to kill Lloyd.
He asked Jenkins if the weapon resembled the gun she had seen in her kitchen. She testified that it was the same color and shape.
McCauley, the prosecutor, questioned Jenkins until 4 p.m., when Judge E. Susan Garsh ended court for the day. Jenkins’s lawyer, Janice Bassil, told Garsh she was livid that her client would have to return to court Monday.
“I’ve never seen a direct examination drag as much as it did,” Bassil said, nearly yelling.
She continued to fume outside the courtroom.
“Had the DA not asked every question four times over, not to mention many irrelevant questions,” Bassil said, “maybe we would have finished.”
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