Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is scheduled to appear in Attleboro (Mass.) District Court Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET for a probable cause hearing. He's been in jail since late last month after being charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd.
But there's a chance the hearing won't take place, according to NFL.com's Albert Breer. Instead, the Bristol county district attorney's office could file a 30-day continuance to allow a grand jury to proceed with the investigation and pursue an indictment.
If indicted, Hernandez's case will move to the Massachusetts Superior Court and there will no longer be a need for a probable-cause hearing. Breer writes that the defense could object to a 30-day continuance, instead wanting to examine witnesses under oath, but the feeling among those in the legal community is that the hearing is procedural more than anything.
"These (hearings) are basically tracking dates," Gerry Leone, a partner at the firm Nixon Peabody and a former state and federal prosecutor who formerly served as district attorney in nearby Middlesex County (Mass.), told Breer. "They're not going to make the commonwealth go forward with this hearing. They'll keep continuing it until the indictment is done. The court likes to hold the government's feet to the fire, but the probable cause hearing is a mechanism not used much anymore, never mind in a case like this."
One important date to keep in mind comes at the end of September when the grand jury session ends. Assuming the judge doesn't extend the session or convene a new grand jury, details of the involvement of Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace -- the two other men taken into custody in the Lloyd case -- could come to light.
Meanwhile, Hernandez is the focus of another grand jury probe, this time into the 2012 shooting deaths of two men, according to a Boston Globe report.
The Patriots have done their best to distance themselves from the former tight end. Team owner Bob Kraft said recently that he was "duped" by Hernandez less than a year after giving him a $40 million contract extension. The Pats also offered a free jersey exchange for fans wanting to swap their Hernandez jerseys, and quarterback Tom Brady told TheMMQB.com that he has "moved on" from Hernandez and is “focusing on the great teammates I have who are committed to helping us win games."