Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(FALL RIVER, Mass.) — Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez and Odin Lloyd were in the “beginning stages of a friendship” at the time of Lloyd’s murder, the victim’s former girlfriend said on the stand Friday.
It was Shaneah Jenkins, 23, who introduced Lloyd, 27, to Hernandez, she said.
Hernandez, who dated Jenkins’ sister, is charged with orchestrating Llyod’s murder.
Friday’s testimony from Jenkins, now a second-year criminal law student at New England Law School, contradicts the defense team’s assertion during opening statements that the two men were good friends.
Lloyd and Hernandez “would hang out and smoke” marijuana in the basement of Hernandez’s Massachusetts home, Jenkins said, confirming that Lloyd had rolled joints in her presence.
In opening statements, prosecutors said Hernandez’s DNA is on a joint he shared with Lloyd.
When asked if she knew of any time Llyod and Hernandez were together without her, Jenkins said, “just the one I was made aware of the weekend he was murdered.”
Emotions ran high as Llyod’s relatives sat through testimony earlier Friday from the captain of the North Attleboro, Massachusetts Fire Department, who responded to the 911 call after the body of the semi-pro football player was found after being shot six times.
Capt. John White told the jury he “saw a gentleman laying on the ground” and saw “no breathing” as he walked towards him.
A member of Lloyd’s family walked out as White described the condition of the body. Other relatives were seen grabbing tissues.
“This person was laying on their back, face up,” White told the jury. “He had no pulse. He was cold to the touch. He was very stiff. You couldn’t move his jaw, couldn’t move his arms.”
White pronounced Lloyd dead at the scene. He said he noticed shell casings around the body and blood coming from the right side of the body.
When graphic photos appeared on screen, Judge Susan Garsh paused and reminded jurors of their purpose.
“These photographs are being introduced solely for the purpose so you can see the position of the body or any visible wounds,” Garsh said. “Please put aside any emotions or sympathy they may generate.”
The first witness on Friday was William Cambio, who saw Lloyd’s body. Cambio works near the North Attleboro industrial park where Lloyd’s body was discovered.
Another man who saw Lloyd is David Swithers, president of Advanced Electronic Design, the company to which a high school student ran initially after discovering the body.
“I saw an African-American male,” Swithers said. “There were flies around his nostrils.”
Prosecutors said in opening arguments Thursday that Lloyd’s murder was preceded by a text message from Hernandez, now 25.
On June 17, 2013, Hernandez “told Odin Lloyd he was going to come out to his house that night,” Assistant District Attorney Patrick Bomberg told the court.
Hernandez was driving when he and two other men picked up Lloyd from his home and brought him to the industrial park, near the Patriots’ home at Gillette Stadium, according to prosecutors.
“Odin Lloyd was shot six times,” Bomberg told the jury.
Hernandez’s defense attorney, Michael Fee, in the defense’s opening statement, declared Hernandez “an innocent man” and said the prosecution’s account of events was “just a story and it’s not true.”
“Aaron Hernandez did not murder his friend Odin Lloyd,” Fee told the jury, claiming investigators prematurely zeroed in on Hernandez to the exclusion of other suspects.
“You come with an open mind,” Fee said. “Give us a chance to show you the truth.”
Next week, jurors are scheduled to see Hernandez’s house, Lloyd’s house and other locations relevant to the case.
As Hernandez’s trial gathers steam, his former team, the Patriots, will play the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Hernandez caught Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s last Super Bowl touchdown pass in the team’s 2012 loss to the New York Giants.
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