FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) – Two men accused of acting with former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez in the slaying of a friend of his behaved strangely days following the man’s death, witnesses testified Friday in Hernandez’s murder trial.
Prosecutors allege Hernandez, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz picked Odin Lloyd up from his Boston home and drove him to a North Attleborough industrial park, where he was shot to death. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to the June 2013 killing.
During the trial his defense team has been trying to put the blame on co-defendants Wallace and Ortiz, who will be tried separately. Prosecutors have not said who actually shot Lloyd but have said Hernandez orchestrated the killing.
On Friday, David and Elizabeth Gourneault testified that Wallace, a friend of theirs, showed up unannounced at their Bristol, Connecticut, home within days of the killing and asked to borrow their phone.
“He wasn’t his usual self,” Elizabeth Gourneault said. “He would talk but just seemed kind of quiet.”
Wallace stepped outside and used the phone for about 30 minutes before leaving, David Gourneault said.
On questioning from Hernandez’s lawyer Charles Rankin, Elizabeth Gourneault acknowledged that she told police that she deleted Wallace’s number from her phone after she learned of his arrest in connection with Lloyd’s death.
“I was scared,” she said.
Members of Hernandez’s extended family through the marriage of his cousin, Tanya Singleton, also testified that Wallace and Singleton – who is accused of helping Wallace flee the state – seemed nervous in the days following Lloyd’s death.
Irene Singleton, the grandmother of Tanya Singleton’s late husband, told the jury that Wallace and Ortiz showed up at her house within a week of Lloyd’s death asking where her grandson was.
“They appeared nervous,” Irene Singleton said of Wallace and Ortiz, adding that the two men huddled together talking in her backyard for about an hour. “They never separate themselves when they come to our house because our house is a family house. But this day they were nervous.”
Irene Singleton said the two men were acting so suspiciously that she asked her grandson to have them leave.
Asked by Rankin whether Wallace and Ortiz were behaving suspiciously because they were on drugs, she acknowledged that she had told police that they were behaving in a “crazy manner” and that Ortiz appeared to be on drugs most of the time.
Irene Singleton’s daughter, Euna Ritchon, testified that she frequently travels to Georgia to visit her daughter and that within days of Lloyd’s death, Wallace and Tanya Singleton approached her about driving down with her. Ritchon said they took back roads and drove continuously through the night. She said she also she saw Tanya Singleton give Wallace a new cellphone before they left for Georgia.