FALL RIVER, Mass. — The judge overseeing the murder trial of ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez warned the victim’s mother to not cry on the stand in front of jurors Wednesday, a reference to the two previous days she left the courtroom in tears when seeing photos of her son’s body.
“I understand this is very emotional for you,” the judge told Ursula Ward, the mother of Odin Lloyd who was set to testify for the first time. With the jury out of the room, Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh instructed her to “retain control of your emotions.”
Ward did not cry and instead remained stoic as the jury returned and a prosecutor showed her an autopsy photo, then another photo of a smiling Lloyd wearing the same clothes he had on when he was found dead: A plaid shirt and a Red Sox cap.
Hernandez, a former New England Patriots player, is accused in the 2013 killing of Lloyd, a 27-year-old semipro football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée. Hernandez, 25, had a $40 million contract with the Patriots when he was arrested.
Also testifying Wednesday for the third day was Lloyd’s girlfriend, Sheneah Jenkins. She said Hernandez and Lloyd often smoked marijuana together and hung out during family gatherings but had only the beginnings of a friendship and were not very close.
That contradicts what Hernandez’s lawyers have said about the two being friends and Hernandez having no reason to kill him.
Wednesday was the first day of Jenkins’ testimony that her sister, Shayanna, attended. The two sit on opposite sides of the courtroom: Shaneah with Lloyd’s family behind prosecutors and Shayanna with Hernandez’s family behind the defense table.
Shayanna Jenkins appeared to pay close attention, taking notes as her younger sister spoke and sharing them with one of Hernandez’s lawyers during a break.
Prosecutors also showed video surveillance from inside Hernandez’s home the morning after Lloyd was killed and a few hours after Shaneah Jenkins learned from police that Lloyd was dead. In the video, Shaneah Jenkins is seen driving up to the home, getting out of a car with her uncle and going inside the house. Shayanna Jenkins is then seen coming up to her sister and giving her a long hug.
As she watched the video, Shayanna Jenkins put her hand on her head and wiped tears away.
The video also shows Shayanna Jenkins carrying what her sister has said was a trash bag toward the basement.
Shayanna Jenkins has been charged with perjury and accused of lying to a grand jury, including when she said she couldn’t remember what she did with a box prosecutors believe she disposed of after getting a coded message from Hernandez. She has pleaded not guilty.
It’s possible Shayanna Jenkins will be called as a witness in the Hernandez case.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Snyder/Associated Press