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Patriots coach 'shocked' by Aaron Hernandez's arrest on murder charge

Patriots coach 'shocked' by Aaron Hernandez's arrest on murder charge
Photo from Broward County Sheriff's office
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Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 6:20pm

(CNN) -- As prosecutors outlined more evidence in their murder case against fallen NFL star Aaron Hernandez -- and asked the court for more time -- his former coach said Wednesday he felt "personally hurt and disappointed" by the case.

"I and other members of the organization were shocked and disappointed in what he had learned," New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick told reporters in his first public comments since Odin Lloyd's killing early on June 17 and Hernandez's arrest nine days later.

"Having someone in your organization that's involved in a murder investigation is a terrible thing."

Authorities have said Hernandez, 23, and two other men picked Lloyd up from his Boston apartment shortly after midnight last month. Surveillance cameras showed the car at an industrial park near Hernandez's North Attleborough, Massachusetts, home.

Lloyd's body was found in the North Attleborough industrial park later that day.

Authorities have accused Hernandez of orchestrating the shooting death of Lloyd, the 27-year-old boyfriend of Hernandez's fiancée's sister. The former standout NFL tight end has pleaded not guilty to murder.

As has long been his custom on football and other matters, Belichick was guarded in his comments Wednesday to the press, saying repeatedly that he could not comment on "people involved in the judicial process."

The three-time Super Bowl-winning head coach did say that -- even though he was outside the United States when the story broke -- he, team owner Robert Kraft and other Patriot officials "acted swiftly and decisively." The NFL team released Hernandez, who had been one of its top offensive players, shortly after his arrest but before he was charged in court with murder.

Belichick took pains to say that Hernandez's alleged actions, as outlined by prosecutors, do "not in any way represent the way that the New England Patriots want to do things." The team continually evaluates its players -- from their on-field performance to their maturity and personal history off the field -- the coach said, before adding, "We'll work to do a better job of it as we go forward."

"Personally, I'm challenged by decisions that affect the team on a daily basis, and I'm not perfect on that, either," Belichick said. "But I always try to do what I think is best for the football team."

The coach spoke the same day Hernandez appeared in Attleboro District Court, wearing a dark blazer, a white button-down shirt and handcuffs over his tattooed wrists.

He stood on one corner of the courtroom, flanked by a bailiff, for what was supposed to be a probable cause hearing in his case.

But Bristol County prosecutor William McCauley asked the judge to delay the hearing 30 days -- and keep Hernandez incarcerated in the meantime -- so that a grand jury could have more time to consider the case.

The grand jury that was impaneled when the investigation began stopped its work at the end of June, McCauley explained. After a two-week break, a new grand jury is now convened to hear "every case in Bristol County" -- including that of Hernandez, having heard from "approximately two dozen witnesses" -- said the prosecutor.

"We have done everything in our power to present it as expeditiously as possible," McCauley said. "Requesting a further date based on the inability to have enough time before the grand jury, I think, is warranted."

A judge had ordered Hernandez held without bail soon after he was charged with murder.

Since then, the prosecutor said, more evidence has been gathered implicating the ex-NFL player. This includes boxes of ammunition found in an apartment of Hernandez, and with his fingerprints on them, that is "consistent with the caliber that was recovered at the homicide scene," according to McCauley.

Also, a magazine clip was found in one of Hernandez's vehicles for a Glock .45, the type of gun that authorities believe was used to kill Lloyd. The alleged murder weapon itself has not been recovered.

"There continues to be additional evidence," McCauley said.

James Sultan, Hernandez's attorney, argued strongly Wednesday against delaying the probable cause hearing.

Prosecutors "made it sound like a slam-dunk case" against Hernandez soon after he was arrested and placed in solitary confinement in a southern Massachusetts jail, Sultan said.

"Now, four weeks later, the first assistant district attorney is not even ready to show this court that it can meet the probable cause standard to hold Mr. Hernandez," the defense attorney said. "(The prosecution) is not entitled to proceed on whatever pace it might choose."

Judge Daniel O'Shea ended up siding with the prosecution, delaying Hernandez's probable cause hearing until 2 p.m. on August 22.

"I do recognize that four weeks is a long time for somebody being held in custody," the judge said. "But the charge is, amongst others, a murder charge."

The other two men who were allegedly in the car with Hernandez around the time of Lloyd's death are behind bars as well.

One of them, Ernest Wallace, has been charged with accessory after the fact to murder and has pleaded not guilty. The other, Carlos Ortiz, has pleaded not guilty to a weapons charge.

Meanwhile, prosecutors also are trying to convince a grand jury that Hernandez is connected to the July 2012 slayings of two men in Boston's South End, a law enforcement source close to the investigation told CNN on Wednesday.

The grand jury looking into the slayings has been meeting for at least two weeks, according to the source.

-- CNN's Jason Hanna and Darius Walker contributed to this report.

The-CNN-Wire
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