ATTLEBORO, Mass. — Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was indicted Thursday on first-degree murder and weapons charges in the death of a friend whose bullet-riddled body was found in an industrial park about a mile from the ex-player's home.
The six-count grand jury indictment charges Hernandez with killing 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player from Boston who was dating the sister of Hernandez's girlfriend.
Hernandez, 23, pleaded not guilty to murder and weapons charges in June, and he is being held without bail.
He had a brief court appearance in Attleboro on Thursday afternoon. Afterward, his attorney Michael Fee said the defense was pleased to be on a path to a jury trial and was looking forward to testing the prosecution's evidence.
"There has been an incredible rush to judgment in this case," and the state doesn't have enough evidence to prove the charges, he said.
Hernandez last summer signed a contract worth $40 million but was cut by the Patriots within hours of his June 26 arrest, when police led the handcuffed athlete from his home as news cameras rolled. He could face life in prison if convicted.
The Bristol County grand jury also indicted two others in the case: Hernandez associate Ernest Wallace and Hernandez's cousin Tanya Singleton.
Wallace is charged with accessory to murder after the fact. Prosecutors have said he was with Hernandez the night Lloyd died.
Singleton is charged with criminal contempt for refusing to testify before the grand jury, Bristol County District Attorney Samuel Sutter said. She has been jailed since Aug. 1. A recent affidavit said that, after Lloyd's killing, Singleton bought Wallace a bus ticket.
Carlos Ortiz, who faces a weapons charge connected to the case, was not indicted.
Sutter said Hernandez's arraignment in Superior Court, where the case now moves, could come next week.
A jogger found Lloyd's body on June 17 in a North Attleborough industrial park. Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, called him a loving son who never hurt anyone.
Prosecutors say Hernandez orchestrated Lloyd's killing because he was upset at him for talking to people Hernandez had problems with at a nightclub days earlier. They say Hernandez, Wallace and Ortiz picked Lloyd up at his home in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood early on June 17 and drove to the industrial park.
Shortly before Lloyd's death, authorities say, he sent his sister text messages asking if she had seen who he was with. "NFL," he wrote. "Just so you know."
Moments later, authorities say, Lloyd was dead after gunshots rang out near a warehouse after he apparently got out of the car for what he thought was a bathroom break.
Authorities have not said who fired the shots, but according to court documents released in Florida, Ortiz told police that Wallace said it was Hernandez.
Wallace earlier pleaded not guilty to a charge of accessory to murder after the fact. Ortiz pleaded not guilty to the firearm charge. A judge ordered Wallace held on $500,000 bail and Ortiz held without bail. Singleton's family hasn't commented.