Metro

Graphic testimony in Aaron Hernandez trial rattles victim’s mother

FALL RIVER — All morning, Ursula Ward kept her composure as photo after photo of her son’s dead body, face up in a gravel lot, was shown to a jury.

Then a prosecutor showed a picture of Odin L. Lloyd’s face and chest — his eyes were shut, his mouth agape, and one hand curled into a fist. Ward couldn’t take any more.

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Weeping loudly, she fled the room. Several jurors, who had been gazing intently at the pictures, looked over at her.

It was the second day of testimony in the murder trial of Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots player who has been charged with killing Lloyd, a 27-year-old semiprofessional football player whose body was found in an industrial yard in North Attleborough on June 17, 2013.

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Prosecutors spent the morning laying the foundation for their case — questioning witnesses who were among the first to discover Lloyd’s body, minutes away from Hernandez’s North Attleborough home. A teenage boy running home from the gym was the first to see the body.

Captain John White Jr. of the North Attleborough Fire Department recalled how cold Lloyd felt to the touch and how stiff his body was. There were two holes in his chest.

Ward’s reaction to the grisly evidence provoked Judge E. Susan Garsh to ask prosecutors to warn the victim witness advocate, who has been sitting with Ward during the trial, when graphic photos will be shown. The images have been displayed on screens around the courtroom.

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Garsh also warned jurors to think clinically about the evidence and not let the graphic nature of the pictures sway their feelings about Hernandez.

“Please be careful,” Garsh told them. “It’s very important you decide this case coolly and without emotion.”

Bristol prosecutors have said Hernandez orchestrated Lloyd’s killing the same weekend the two went out to a club in Boston, where Hernandez allegedly became irritated with Lloyd.

Prosecutors say Hernandez summoned two associates, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, to meet him in North Attleborough and go with him to pick up Lloyd in Dorchester. They drove Lloyd in a rented Nissan Altima to an isolated industrial yard where Lloyd was shot five times, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors have not said why Hernandez was angry with Lloyd. Defense attorneys have said Lloyd was a friend of the former NFL player. That friendship, defense attorneys have said, is one of the reasons jurors should find reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s theory that Hernandez wanted Lloyd dead.

But Bristol Assistant District Attorney William McCauley sought to undermine that argument Friday through the testimony of Shaneah Jenkins, Lloyd’s girlfriend. Jenkins, the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée, Shayanna, introduced the two men soon after the couple began dating in March 2012.

Shaneah Jenkins, 23, said Lloyd often came with her when she visited her older sister and Hernandez in North Attleborough. Lloyd and Hernandez would smoke pot together in his basement, which Hernandez called his “man cave.” McCauley showed pictures of the finished basement, which featured a bar, a big-screen television, plush couches, and a long pool table with the Patriots logo etched in the red felt.

Jenkins said the relationship between the men was more cordial than close. “Like beginning stages of a friendship,” she said.

Jenkins, who is scheduled to continue her testimony next week, remained calm on the stand. She rarely looked at Hernandez, who rocked gently back and forth in his chair during her testimony.

Hernandez’s defense lawyers have said they will show the jury that police and prosecutors were sloppy in their investigation and became fixated with pinning Lloyd’s killing on him, ignoring any evidence that contradicted their theory.

On Friday, one of Hernandez’s lawyers, Charles Rankin, aggressively questioned two men who work at a computer firm near the industrial yard and rushed to Lloyd’s body after the teenage boy went to their business for help.

Rankin quizzed them about the path they took to the body, their view of the crime scene from different points, and their interactions with law enforcement. He also tried to establish that the area was less secluded than prosecutors suggested.

Just before testimony concluded for the day, Garsh told jurors she would not forbid them from watching the Super Bowl. But she asked them to avoid listening to any mention of Hernandez on television or by family and friends.

It is unclear if Hernandez, who is being held at the Bristol County House of Correction, will watch his old teammates take the field Sunday.

Bristol Sherriff Thomas Hodgson would only say in a phone interview that Hernandez is being held in the jail’s special management unit. Detainees in that unit do not have television privileges.

Maria Cramer can be reached at maria.cramer@globe.com. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.
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