FALL RIVER — A prosecution witness in the murder trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez testified Wednesday that the athlete lamented the loss of his endorsements soon after the body of Odin L. Lloyd was discovered.
Azia Jenkins, the uncle of Hernandez’s fiancee, said he was in the couple’s North Attleborough home on June 18, 2013, and that he and Hernandez were watching the NBA Finals when a commercial came on.
As the ad played, Jenkins said, Hernandez told him, “My endorsements are gone.”
Lloyd’s body had been found the day before in an industrial park near Hernandez’s home. Hernandez, 25, has pleaded not guilty to murder and weapons charges in the death of Lloyd, 27, of Dorchester.
Jenkins also said that Hernandez seemed “like Aaron . . . cool, calm, collected,” while watching the game. The defense has tried to show that Hernandez and Lloyd were close friends, and that Hernandez was shaken after Lloyd’s death.
Jenkins said on cross examination that Lloyd and Hernandez sat “side-by-side” on a party bus en route to a nightclub a couple weeks before the slaying, and they “absolutely” appeared to be having fun. But when questioned again by the prosecution, he said he had only seen Hernandez and Lloyd together during two family functions.
“The extent of the relationship?” Jenkins said, “I can’t voice my opinion.”
Also Wednesday, prosecutors were dealt a blow when Bristol Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh refused to allow a high school friend of Hernandez to testify before the jury — his testimony could have linked Hernandez to a .45 caliber handgun. Lloyd was killed with a .45 caliber firearm, but investigators have not found the weapon that was used.
The high school friend, Robert Paradis, testified out of the jury’s presence that he visited Hernandez in Los Angeles in April 2013, and that Hernandez said while driving a rental vehicle that he had “heat or fire” under the driver’s seat.
Hernandez also said during the visit that he had a .45 caliber gun, and at one point called Paradis and asked him to go into his room to see “if it was in his nightstand,” Paradis testified. He said he felt an object wrapped in a shirt in the dresser, and the item was “in the shape of a gun,” but he never saw a firearm.
Garsh ruled that Paradis could not testify in front of the jury, after defense lawyer Michael Fee highlighted Paradis’s inconsistent prior statements about the incident. And, Garsh said, prosecutors presented no evidence that Hernandez had access at the time of Lloyd’s killing to the possible gun Paradis had refered to.
Hernandez, however, was linked to ammunition earlier Wednesday.
Another prosecution witness, Keelia Smyth, a former manager of an Enterprise rental car branch in North Attleborough, said Hernandez returned a damaged Nissan Altima on the afternoon of June 17, 2013, and that she found “what I thought was a bullet” under the driver’s seat when she cleaned the car the next day.
Prosecutors say Hernandez drove two accomplices and Lloyd in the Altima to the industrial park, where Lloyd was killed.
Smyth said she also found a chewed piece of blue gum, a Vitamin Water bottle, and a child’s drawing inside the Altima and threw them into a dumpster along with the bullet. Investigators later pulled the ammunition, the gum, and other items from the bin.
On cross examination, Smyth told defense lawyer James Sultan that she used the children’s drawing to pick up the casing and the gum, squeezing them together before throwing the items away.
Prosecutors have said Hernandez left DNA on a shell casing found in the Altima, and that he bought blue gum in the hours before the killing. Smyth testified that when Hernandez returned the Altima, he offered her a piece of blue gum, which she declined.
Sultan, in an apparent effort to show that the shell casing was compromised, asked a State Police forensic scientist on Wednesday if DNA can transfer from one surface to another.
The analyst, Alanna Frederick, said situations vary, but “it can be transferred, yes.” She told prosecutor William McCauley that analysts can discern between different DNA samples on a given surface and can tell who has left larger DNA traces.