Judge nixes prosecution request for Hernandez jail phone recordings

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Hernandez is currently in jail awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges. (USATSI)
Hernandez is currently in jail awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges. (USATSI)

A judge has denied the prosecution's request for former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez's jailhouse phone recordings. Hernandez is currently being held without bail at the Dartmouth, Mass., jail while he awaits trial on first-degree murder charges in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd.

The ex-NFL star has pleaded not guilty to murder in the Lloyd killing.

Judge Susan Garsh said prosecutors did not make a convincing case for her to order the phone recordings released, and she has ordered the prosecution to turn over to the defense team copies of calls they have already acknowledged having.

The prosecution is also seeking records of Hernandez's jailhouse visits, the Associated Press reports, including visits from his fiancee and cousin, both of whom face charges in connection with the case.

Defense attorney James Sultan called the state's request "grossly overbroad," and accused the prosecution of going on a "fishing expedition." Sultan also said the jail and the Bristol County district attorney's office were in a "bizarre partnership," adding that the former was acting as an "arm of the prosecution" by handing over information it felt the prosecution might be interested in.

The prosecution, meanwhile, claims that in the phone calls, Hernandez communicated about the murder case in "coded messages" and talked about his "belief about his criminal liability" and the "extent of his control over persons charged as accessories."

In addition to Hernandez, four others have been charged in the case: Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, who were allegedly with Hernandez the night Lloyd was killed, have pleaded not guilty to accessory to murder after the fact.

Hernandez's fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, has pleaded not guilty to a perjury charge. And Hernandez's cousin, Tanya Singleton, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and contempt charges.

The AP reported Friday that the judge ruled against a defense request to force prosecutors to disclose whether they think Hernandez was the one who pulled the trigger. The prosecution hasn't yet said who they believe shot Lloyd.

The next hearing is set for June 16.

 
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