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Lawyers for ex-NFL star say murder investigators misled witness

Former NFL New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, accused of killing 27-year-old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, is brought to
Former NFL New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, accused of killing 27-year-old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, is brought to

By Daniel Lovering

ATTLEBORO, Massachusetts (Reuters) - A judge on Friday declined to rule on a motion filed by Aaron Hernandez's lawyers that accused investigators of misleading at least one witness while building their murder case against the former NFL star.

Attleboro District Court Judge Robert Harbour said the motion, along with two others filed by defense attorneys last week, should be handled by Fall River Superior Court where Hernandez's arraignment will take place on September 6.

The hearing came a week after Hernandez, a former New England Patriots tight end, was indicted on murder and weapons charges. He has been accused of the June killing of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player whose bullet-riddled body was found near Hernandez's house in North Attleborough, Massachusetts.

Hernandez appeared briefly in the Attleboro District Court on Friday, handcuffed and wearing a dark blue suit jacket and white open collared shirt, but did not speak. Members of Lloyd's family also attended the hearing.

In one motion, defense attorneys alleged that detectives told a potential witness at a Connecticut prison, Everett Garcia, that they were there "to help Aaron out," and that the meeting occurred a day before the defense team was due to meet with him.

They said investigators deliberately misled Garcia about their purpose in order to get a statement and "breached established ethical rules and may well have committed a criminal offense," according to the motion, which sought to prevent the state from committing such offenses again.

Another motion called for the state to provide the defense with any evidence it may not have provided already.

Prosecutors have denied that police said or implied they were there to "help Aaron out," according to court documents.

Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for the Bristol County district attorney's office, said allegations made in the motions were "simply not accurate" and that investigators had interviewed hundreds of people in the case.

"Our focus is on the tragic murder of Odin Lloyd, and that's our sole focus," he told reporters.

Hernandez, 23, was cut from the Patriots on June 26, shortly after police arrested him for allegedly orchestrating the execution-style murder. Lloyd, 27, had been dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancée.

Before his arrest, Hernandez had been a rising star in the NFL with a $40 million contract with the Patriots, one of the National Football League's top teams.

(Editing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by David Gregorio)

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