FALL RIVER — House cleaners for Aaron Hernandez spotted guns in the home of the former Patriots player weeks before the killing of Odin L. Lloyd, jurors were told Monday.
Two women hired to clean the football player’s North Attleborough home testified for the prosecution in Hernandez’s murder trial, telling jurors that they had noticed guns in the basement and master bedroom in May 2013.
Hernandez, 25, has pleaded not guilty to murder and weapons charges in the June 2013 death of Lloyd, 27, of Dorchester, whose bullet-riddled body was found in an industrial park near Hernandez’s residence.
One cleaner, Marilia Prinholato, said she saw a firearm around May 7, 2013, when it fell from underneath a mattress in a guest bedroom in the basement. “It was, like, heavy,” Prinholato said. “The magazine [was] full.”
Prinholato described the weapon as a black gun, about 30 to 40 centimeters, or roughly 12 to 15 inches, in length. She also recounted an incident in mid-May when her boss, Grazi Silva, pulled a smaller, silver-and-black firearm from a pair of Hernandez’s pants in the master bedroom.
“Marilia, look at this,” Prinholato quoted Silva as saying, prompting an objection from the defense, which Bristol Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh sustained.
Silva later took the stand and said the weapon fit in her hand, and that she put the gun back where she found it. “I didn’t want him to know that I saw this,” Silva said.
She also testified that on at least three occasions, she saw a larger gun in Hernandez’s dresser drawer. That gun, Silva said, was “really black, or dark gray”’ and appeared similar to “the normal gun that police use.”
As the women testified, Garsh told jurors that the presence of guns in Hernandez’s home was not evidence of his “propensity” to commit the murder. Rather, Garsh said, jurors could only consider whether the gun sightings demonstrated that Hernandez had “the means” to arm himself or others.
Investigators have not recovered the .45 caliber firearm used to kill Lloyd, though prior prosecution witnesses have linked Hernandez to a .45 caliber shell casing left in a rented Nissan Altima that he allegedly used to drive Lloyd to the murder scene. Authorities also say Hernandez’s home security system captured footage of him carrying a gun inside his residence shortly after the shooting. Two alleged accomplices of Hernandez — Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz — are also charged with murder and will be tried separately.
During cross-examination from defense attorney Michael Fee, the women testified that neither Hernandez nor his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, slept in the basement bedroom where one gun was found, but another man slept there when he visited the house. Silva identified him as “the guy who was arrested,” and provided a physical description that resembled Wallace.
Fee also zeroed in on the immigration status of Silva, a Brazilian immigrant who said she is living in the US illegally.
“You believe that your cooperation . . . will help you with your immigration status, don’t you?” Fee asked.
“Yes,” Silva said.
However, she added through an interpreter that “it would have been better for me if none of this ever happened.”
Silva also testified that Jenkins asked her about three weeks before the murder to sign a nondisclosure form. Jenkins asked Silva about the form again, after Silva testified before a grand jury, Silva said Monday. Silva declined to sign the document and stopped cleaning the house, she testified.
Prinholato also mentioned the nondisclosure forms, but the women told Fee on cross-examination that neither Hernandez nor Jenkins ever asked them to sign the documents before leaving the house.
Also on Monday, Garsh reversed a ruling she had issued Friday barring any mention of text messages that Lloyd exchanged with his sister, Shaquilla Thibou, during the final minutes of his life. Garsh said Monday that Thibou can testify that she and Lloyd texted during that period, without detailing the content of the messages. Garsh ruled in December that jurors could not see the content of the texts, which prosecutors contend showed that Lloyd feared he was in danger.
“U saw who I was with,” Lloyd texted, according to court records. “NFL...Just so U know.”
Testimony is scheduled to resume on Tuesday.
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.