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Hernandez will appeal bail ruling; lawyer says 'not a strong case'

9:08 AM, Jun 27, 2013   |    comments
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 10: Aaron Hernandez #81 of the New England Patriots smiles from the sidelines in the fourth quarter during a game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on December 10, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Aaron Hernandez, the star New England Patriots tight end charged with first-degree murder in the death of a friend, will be back in court Thursday to appeal a judge's ruling that he be held without bail.

His lawyer, Michael Fee, argued before a magistrate on Wednesday that Hernandez was not a flight risk. Fee said that Hernandez owns his home, lives with his fiancée and baby - and stayed put last week despite rampant rumors of his impending arrest.

The lawyer raised the prospect of an appeal after the magistrate, Mark Sturdy of Attleboro District Court in Massachusetts, denied bail and said that he would block both sides in the case from discussing it publicly.

A bail review hearing was scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at Fall River Superior Court.

Hernandez, 23, woke up Thursday at Bristol County Jail in Dartmouth, Mass., where the sheriff said he would be treated like any other inmate - no workout equipment, no TV, no Internet access and, on the first night, spaghetti for dinner.

"My philosophy is that, if you come to prison, we're not going to use taxpayers' money to have you distract yourself away from the things you should be focusing on, which is to rehabilitate yourself, and never come back again," Sheriff Thomas Hodgson told reporters Wednesday.

Prosecutors say Hernandez was still fuming from a nightclub fight three days earlier when he orchestrated the killing of Odin Lloyd, 27, whose bullet-riddled body was found June 17 in an industrial park not far from Hernandez's home.

Prosecutor William McCauley told the magistrate that Lloyd was shot in the back, and that Hernandez and his two friends then stood over him and delivered the two gunshots that killed him.

"He orchestrated the crime from the beginning and took steps to conceal and destroy evidence," McCauley said in court Wednesday.

Hernandez pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and five weapons charges, including possession of a large-capacity firearm.

The Patriots cut him within hours after he was led from his home in handcuffs. The team had given Hernandez a five-year, $40 million contract last summer, including a $12.5 million signing bonus.

The investigation also cost Hernandez his endorsement deal with CytoSport, the maker of the Muscle Milk supplement drink.

Prosecutors said that the killing was prompted by a fight between Hernandez and Lloyd at a Boston nightclub on the night of June 14. The issue stemmed from Lloyd having a conversation with a group of people Hernandez "had trouble with," prosecutors said.

Three days later, Hernandez and two friends picked Lloyd up at his house at 2:30 a.m., prosecutors said. Surveillance footage from Hernandez's house shows him leaving earlier in the night with a weapon, they said.

They said Lloyd got into the car and texted his sister, "Did you see who I am with," and later added, "NFL" and "Just so you know."

Later that morning, between 3:23 a.m. and 3:27 a.m., workers on the overnight shift at the industrial park reported hearing gunshots, authorities said. It was not clear who investigators believe fired the shots.

Prosecutors also say that security videos from Hernandez's house show him with firearms after Lloyd was murdered and show a Nissan Altima - the same type of car Hernandez had rented - coming and going at the industrial park.

Surveillance footage captured Hernandez getting out of the car at his house at 3:29 a.m. with a gun, prosecutors say.

Fee said that the case relied on circumstantial evidence.

"It is not a strong case," he said in court.

Erin McClam, Staff Writer, NBC News

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