Massachusetts prosecutors in the Aaron Hernandez murder case said Friday there's no truth to an allegation by lawyers for the former New England Patriot that investigators misled a potential witness.
The defense claimed in court papers filed last week that investigators visiting an inmate at a Connecticut prison in August told him they were there "to help Aaron out." Hernandez's attorneys said Everett Garcia told them that was the only reason he answered the officers' questions.
But in a response filed in Attleboro District Court on Friday, prosecutors said that the officers never told Garcia - or implied - they were there to help Hernandez and that Garcia was repeatedly informed the interview was voluntary.
Prosecutors say Garcia is part of the Bloods gang from Hernandez's hometown of Bristol, Conn. He is serving a 7 1/2 year sentence for a 2009 robbery conviction, according to the filing.
Hernandez, 23, was indicted on a murder charge last week in the killing of Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-professional football player from Boston. The ex-Patriot is to be arraigned in superior court next Friday. He previously pleaded not guilty to murder and weapons charges that preceded the indictment.
Hernandez made a brief appearance Friday in Attleboro court. During the proceeding, the judge declined to take action on the defense's request that the court order the state to stop "deliberately misleading or making false statements" to potential witnesses.
The judge said the motions would be heard in superior court, the trial court, once the case is transferred there. Hernandez's attorneys had no comment outside court.
It is not clear what information Garcia gave police. An affidavit filed by the prosecution says officers talked to him about Hernandez, Ernest Wallace and "Charlie-Boy." Prosecutors say Wallace and a third associate, Carlos Ortiz, were with Hernandez June 17 when Lloyd was fatally shot at an industrial park near Hernandez's North Attleborough, Mass., home.
Wallace was indicted on an accessory-to-murder charge last week. He previously pleaded not guilty to the same charge in district court. Ortiz has pleaded not guilty to a firearms charge in district court.
Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for Bristol County District Attorney Samuel Sutter, declined to comment Friday on the relationship between Garcia and Hernandez.
Prosecutors say Hernandez orchestrated the killing because he was upset at Lloyd for talking to some people at a nightclub with whom Hernandez had problems.