Photo courtesy of the Associated Press
If Aaron Hernandez wants to marry his high school sweetheart and mother of his 7-month-old daughter, it's not going to happen while he's in the Bristol County jail, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday.
Whether Hernandez wanted to tie the knot for love or courtroom strategy, Hodgson won't have it.
"I don't subscribe to that. I feel that those rights are things that you access on the outside, if you're a good citizen," he said. "We'll do everything we can to not have that happen."
Hernandez is being held without bail after he plead not guilty last week to a first-degree murder charge in connection with the execution-style slaying of Odin Lloyd. At his arraignment, Hernandez smiled across the courtroom at his fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins.
Prosecutors last week, in laying out their initial case against Hernandez, said Jenkins had begun speaking with investigators until receiving a phone call from Hernandez telling her to keep quiet.
If the couple were married, Jenkins could be shielded from testifying against Hernandez at trial.
Hernandez has been held at the Bristol County jail since June 26, the day he was led from his sprawling North Attleborough, Mass., home in handcuffs. A Bristol County Superior Court judge on June 27 upheld the decision from a district court judge that he be held without bail.
At both his arraignment and bail review hearing, Hernandez's defense team argued their client needed to be treated like any other defendant despite his status as a football celebrity.
Hodgson said that is indeed how Hernandez is being treated at the facility that houses between 1,400-1,450 men and women who have been charged with or convicted of crimes.
Hernandez received a mental health evaluation and a physical soon after he was booked into the facility, and spent five days in the jail's medical unit. There, he had his tattoos examined to see if jail officials could make any gang connections, and Hodgson said Hernandez denied any sort of gang affiliations.
"We're not concerned about that at all right now. Anytime anybody has tattoos we make sure we are cautious," Hodgson said.
On Monday, he was transferred to a new unit where he is being held in a single cell, without contact with other inmates.
Hernandez is allowed three hours of time each day out of his 7-by-10-square-foot cell, one hour each to walk in the prison yard, spend in an indoor common area, and to take a shower and make phone calls. The jail has no televisions, no coffee and no exercise equipment.
Hernandez's first meals in his new unit included scrambled eggs and grits, and chop suey with green beans and bread.
Hernandez's lawyers argued last week one of the reasons he should be allowed to post bond was to continue receiving specialized medical treatment for football-related shoulder and back injuries. Hodgson said Hernandez would receive "adequate" medical care.
"It might not be the level of medical care he had on the outside," Hodgson said.
In a week, Hernandez's status will be reviewed again, and there is a chance he could then be transferred into general population. Inmates in general population have access to a basketball court in a communal yard.
Though Hernandez has yet to have any interaction with his fellow inmates, Hodgson said other inmates are well aware of Hernandez's presence at the facility. How other inmates respond to having a celebrity inmate will be part of determining if Hernandez will eventually change housing units.
"We want to avoid any problems at all cost. Sometimes inside of prison, even if there is someone in the community is popular - don't have a reputation around sports or anything, but is just well known - someone could say they were going to try to raise their own stature within the prison by giving this guy a hard time or doing something," Hodgson said. "We're very careful. It's my charge to make sure all the inmates in our custody are cared for and they are safe and their rights are protected."
Lindsay H. Jones, USA TODAY Sports