Suspect in Aaron Hernandez case appears in bond court
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Connecticut man implicated in NFL star Aaron Hernandez’s murder case is in custody in the Broward County Main Jail and was ordered held without bond Saturday during his first-appearance court hearing.
Ernest Wallace, 41, was charged with accessory after the fact to a murder that the former New England Patriots player is charged with committing.
Wallace, who was sought by Massachusetts State Police and was considered armed and dangerous, walked into the lobby of the Miramar Police Department on Friday afternoon and peacefully surrendered. He is the third suspect in the high-profile case.
His Boston-based attorney, David Meier, on Saturday would not discuss the relationship between Wallace and Hernandez nor the alleged role Wallace played in the June 17 murder of Odin Lloyd.
“It’s his intention to waive rendition proceedings and to return to Massachusetts,” Meier said. “He will be brought before a judge in Massachusetts and formally arraigned on the single charge.”
Wallace regularly visits his elderly parents and other relatives in Miramar, the attorney said.
Upon learning he had a warrant for his arrest, Wallace surrendered himself, Meier said.
Wallace was held in an interview room under guard by several officers Friday until he was later transferred to the Broward County Jail in Fort Lauderdale. He is expected to be extradited to Massachusetts at a later date.
Hernandez, 23, a standout tight end during his days playing football at the University of Florida, has had a legacy of trouble and has been linked to guns, fights and drugs. He recently has been sued for shooting a man after an argument at a South Florida strip club in February.
Wallace is charged with being one of two men who were with Hernandez during the slaying of Lloyd. Police did not outline in detail how Wallace served as an accessory in the killing.
The other suspected accomplice, Carlos Ortiz, 27, was arrested in his home state of Connecticut on charges of being a fugitive from justice. He was extradited to Massachusetts.
Hernandez faces a first-degree murder count for the death of Lloyd, 27, a semi-pro football player who was dating Shaneah Jenkins, the sister of Hernandez’s longtime girlfriend, Shayanna Jenkins.
Lloyd’s body was found in an industrial park about a half mile from Hernandez’s North Attleboro, Mass., home. He had been shot five times: twice in the arm, once in the back, and twice in the chest, with the shooter likely standing over the victim.
A Massachusetts prosecutor described the slaying as an “orchestrated execution.” Hernandez, who has pleaded not guilty, faces life in prison if convicted. He’s being held without bail.
Investigators linked Hernandez to the murder through spent .45-caliber shell casings found in a car he was connected to. He was also spotted on a surveillance video the night of Lloyd’s death, before and after the killing, holding a .45-caliber Glock pistol - the suspected murder weapon which has never been found.
Videos also showed Hernandez’ rental car in the vicinity of Lloyd’s murder. Investigators have not outlined a motive for the killing, but said Hernandez and Lloyd argued at a Boston nightclub a week before the murder.
It was an argument at Tootsie’s, a Miami strip club, that caused Hernandez to shoot his friend Alexander Bradley, a federal lawsuit alleges. The suit does not state whether the shooting was accidental or intentional.
According to the suit, filed June 19, Hernandez and Bradley were driving through Palm Beach County after leaving the club. Hernandez discharged a gun, the suit states, and a bullet struck Bradley, putting out his right eye.
Bradley, from East Hartford, Conn., needed reconstructive surgery with plates and screws, has difficulty eating, is scarred and has trouble manipulating his right arm and hand, the suit alleges. It seeks $100,000 in damages.
No criminal charges have been found concerning the episode and it’s unclear whether Bradley filed a police complaint.
The Boston Globe reported Hernandez started using drugs after the unexpected death of his father, Dennis, in 2006. The son had his father’s favorite quote, “If it is to be, it is up to me,” tattooed on his left arm, the paper reported.
Hernandez was a star player at his Bristol, Conn., high school, but opted to attend Florida and play for the Gators after a recruiting visit hosted by Tim Tebow, the college’s freshman quarterback at the time.
During his first year with the Gators, Hernandez was questioned about an early-morning nightclub shooting that left two men wounded. He was never charged. Also in his freshman year, Hernandez was arrested for fighting with a bouncer at an off-campus bar. A juvenile, he was not severely punished.
As a college player, Hernandez tested positive several times for marijuana, and was suspended for one game after failing a drug test.
After his arrest, the Patriots cut Hernandez from the team. He was drafted by the Patriots three seasons ago at age 20, and caught 75 passes for 1,956 yards and 18 touchdowns. Just last year the promising player signed a seven-year, $41 million contract.
Hernandez and Jenkins, his high school sweetheart, had a daughter last November.
Several media reports are now saying Massachusetts investigators are looking into Hernandez’s possible involvement in a double homicide in Boston in 2012.
The Hartford Courant, a Tribune newspaper, contributed to this report
THE STORY SO FAR
Key dates in Aaron Hernandez’s odyssey from star player to murder suspect:
June 17: night Odin Lloyd shot
June 18: Hernandez questioned by police
June 22: police search Hernandez’s home
June 26: Hernandez arraigned for murder
June 26: Patriots cut Hernandez from team
June 26: Ortiz charged as fugitive
June 27: Warrant issued for Wallace
June 28: Wallace surrenders in South Florida