By Erika Niedowski
---- — FALL RIVER (AP) — An associate of former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez who has been charged as an accessory to murder was just “along for the ride,” his lawyer said Thursday.
Speaking after a brief court hearing, defense attorney John Connors suggested his client, Carlos Ortiz, went out on the night Odin Lloyd was killed last summer because he was awe-struck by the “superstar” NFL player.
Connors compared it to being asked by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and called Hernandez the “hometown hero” of Bristol, Conn., where both men are from.
“The night didn’t turn out the way it should have,” Connors told reporters. “He happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whatever went on, he had no part in it.”
Ortiz, who appeared in Fall River Superior Court on Thursday but did not speak, has pleaded not guilty to accessory to murder after the fact. He is being held on $500,000 cash bail.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder in Lloyd’s death. The 27-year-old Boston man was dating the sister of Hernandez’s girlfriend, Shayanna Jenkins. She has pleaded not guilty to perjury in connection with her testimony before the grand jury that indicted Hernandez.
Connors told the judge Thursday he will likely need through the end of February to go through the voluminous amount of evidence provided by prosecutors.
More discovery materials are expected to be turned over next week, lead prosecutor William McCauley said.
McCauley is also expected to turn over to the defense a so-called bill of particulars that provides more details about how they allege Ortiz assisted Hernandez after Lloyd was killed.
Connors said he expects to seek to suppress statements Ortiz made to authorities in Connecticut during “hours and hours” of interrogation without a lawyer present.
Ortiz initially told authorities that Hernandez and another associate, Ernest Wallace, got out of the car they were in with Lloyd before he heard shots ring out. Prosecutors say Ortiz later changed his story, saying only Hernandez and Lloyd got out.
Connors said Thursday it’s “not unusual that things conflict” after such extensive questioning.
Wallace is also charged with accessory to murder after the fact and has pleaded not guilty.