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Rolling Stone writer Paul Solotaroff: Aaron Hernandez will be acquitted, return to NFL

Aaron Hernandez PatriotsAaron Hernandez remains behind bars at the Bristol County House of Corrections awaiting trial for the murder of Odin Lloyd. Given all the circumstantial evidence we have heard to this point, most people feel that a conviction is merely a formality. Paul Solotaroff of Rolling Stone magazine does not see it that way at all.

Solotaroff is the writer who wrote the lengthy piece about Hernandez that claimed the former tight end is an angel dust user who confided in Bill Belichick about gangsters trying to kill him. In an interview with CBS Sports Radio’s Doug Gottlieb on Wednesday, Solotaroff said he believes Hernandez will eventually be acquitted of his murder charge.

“I think (the case) is not only beatable, (but) I think he will be back in the NFL within three or four years,” he said. “I think they’ve grossly overcharged him based on the case they’re building – no direct eye witness, no murder weapon (and) no plausible motive.”

Solotaroff said he believes it will be easy to convict Hernandez on the five gun charges levied against him. However, he said he cannot see him doing any more than a few years in prison for that. Does that mean a return to the NFL is possible for a man who most have already labeled a murderer?

“As crazy as it sounds, this is a guy with no priors,” Solotaroff continued. “So asking a judge to sentence Hernandez to consecutive prison bids – rather than contemporary ones – is going to be a very hard sell for the prosecution. And if in fact he winds up doing three years behind (bars for) those gun charges – which would be a lot in this case – he’s 26, 27, with very low mileage on those legs of his and a lot of time to heal up. My sources tell me there will be more than one NFL team pursuing him hotly when he walks out of jail in four years.”

It is certainly legitimate food for thought. Based on the evidence the prosecution claims it has against Hernandez, I’m personally hoping there is enough for a jury to convict the 23-year-old. But if there is not, plenty of NFL teams will be willing to give him a look.

Investigators have searched extensively for the murder weapon that was used to kill Lloyd, but they have not — to our knowledge — had any luck in uncovering it. Without that gun, the case against Hernandez will be a lot weaker than prosecutors would like it to be.

H/T Shutdown Corner

Bill Belichick reportedly advised Aaron Hernandez to rent a safe house and lay low

Aaron HernandezThroughout the entire Aaron Hernandez murder investigation, people have wondered what exactly the New England Patriots knew about their former tight end’s life off the football field. It has become obvious that Hernandez hung around with a shady crowd and did his best to continue living the life of a thug, but to what extent were the Patriots aware of his indiscretions?

In a lengthy Rolling Stone piece that examine’s Hernandez’s life since childhood, Bill Belichick’s alleged knowledge of the 23-year-old’s crumbling personal life becomes a bit more clear. This past spring, before Odin Lloyd was shot and killed, Belichick had reportedly warned Hernandez that he was down to his final strike with the team.

Rolling Stone’s Paul Solotaroff claims Belichick was made aware of a domestic dispute at Hernandez’s Hermosa Beach, Calif. rental in March, where police were called after Hernandez allegedly put his fist through a window. No arrest was made, but Belichick reportedly “exploded” on Hernandez and told him he would be traded or cut at the end of the 2013 if he didn’t shape up.

In February, prior to the Hermosa Beach incident, Hernandez had reportedly flown to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis to confide in Belichick that he believed his life was in danger. A source told Solotaroff that Hernandez explained to Belichick that he was worried a group of gangsters he had befriended were “trying to kill him.”

According to a close Hernandez associate, Belichick advised the former Florida Gator to rent a safe house and lay low for a while. It is believed that he followed the advice by later renting an apartment in Franklin, Mass., though I highly doubt Belichick envisioned it becoming the so called “flophouse” where investigators seized several pieces of evidence after being led there by Carlos Oritz.

As we shared with you on Tuesday, the Rolling Stone article also claimed Hernandez was a heavy angel dust user who carried a gun around with him for safety. One friend of Hernandez’s family speculated that his use of angel dust, which can alter a person’s mentality, led to his paranoia.

“Don’t matter what it’s about: Aaron’s out of his mind,” the friend said. “He’s been twisted on dust now for more than a year, which is when all of this crazy sh– started.”

Previous reports have indicated that Hernandez had gang ties and feared for his life, so that seems to be a common theme. Whether or not his alleged drug use made those fears too much to handle remains a mystery.

Aaron Hernandez indicted in Odin Lloyd murder case

Aaron HernandezFormer New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was formally indicted by a grand jury in the murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd on Thursday. The indictment, which was reported by CBS Boston and confirmed by Fall River Superior Court, came on the same day that Hernandez was due back in an Attleboro courtroom for a probable cause hearing.

Rather than laying out the evidence investigators have collected against Hernandez to make the case that he should remain in jail without bail, Bristol County prosecutors instead officially arraigned Hernandez. Last month, a judge granted a delay after prosecutors requested more time to present evidence against the 23-year-old to a grand jury. Without an indictment, Hernandez’s attorneys would have argued for his release on Thursday.

The official indictment follows a report from earlier this week that indicated the gun that was used in a 2012 double murder was found in Hernandez’s hometown of Bristol, Conn. It was reportedly uncovered in the car of a 19-year-old woman who has been arrested three times in the past year and was involved in a car crash in June. Prosecutors have been trying to make a case against Hernandez in the 2012 murders.

Gun used in 2012 double murder linked to Aaron Hernandez found

Aaron Hernandez gun

The gun used in a 2012 drive-by shooting in Boston that left two men dead has been found, WSHM in Springfield reports.

According to CBS 3 Springfield, the murder weapon turned up when police searched the car of Jailene Diaz-Ramos, who was involved in a car crash on June 21. Diaz-Ramos is from Bristol, Conn., which is Aaron Hernandez’s home town.

Diaz-Ramos was taken to a medical center following her crash. Police found a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver in a black briefcase in the trunk, per CBS 3. The gun was taken for testing and police confirmed it was the weapon used in the murder. Diaz-Ramos was arraigned for illegal possession of a gun and ammunition.

[Related: Jailene Diaz-Ramos arrested three times in past year]

Hernandez has been linked to the shooting that left Safiro Furtado and Daniel Abreu dead. Prosecutors were reportedly making the case to a Suffolk County grand jury that Hernandez should be charged for the murders.

Diaz-Ramos reportedly told police the gun belonged to a friend she referred to as “Chicago”. She told police she drove Chicago and his friends to work, that they are football players, and that the gun was left in the car because she did not want them to take it to work.

(Note: photo at top does not show purported murder weapon)

Aaron Hernandez’s mother was reportedly part of a ‘big-time’ gambling operation

Aaron HernandezThe more we learn about Aaron Hernandez as he awaits trial for the murder of Odin Lloyd, the more we come to understand how troubled his past was. When Hernandez was 16, his father died unexpectedly following an infection that stemmed from a routine hernia surgery. Most people have pinpointed that tragic event as the moment where it all went wrong, but the roots run deeper than that.

When Hernandez was in sixth grade, his mother Terri Hernandez reportedly began taking bets for an illegal sports gambling organization. In a story about Hernandez’s past that was published in the Boston Globe on Thursday, Bob Hohler outlined some of the details regarding the gambling ring.

In 2001, Terri was arrested and charged with professional gambling for her involvement with the illegal operation. Police wiretaps allegedly intercepted her relaying several sports betting lines for games involving a number of teams, including — coincidentally — the New England Patriots. A man named Martin Hovanesian, Terri’s alleged accomplice, was convicted of felony racketeering and professional gambling.

“It was a big-time operation in a little town,’’ Hovanesian’s lawyer Williams Gerace told Hohler. “She was the phone operator, a minor player, not the brains.”

[Related: Aaron Hernandez's mother was stabbed by his stepfather]

The outcome of Terri’s case is not available under Connecticut law. That would have been five years before Hernandez’s father passed away, so it gives you an idea of the type of activity he was surrounded by at a young age.

Before you start accusing us of making excuses for Hernandez, we assure you we are not. Plenty of people come from horrible pasts without allegedly being involved in a murder later in life. But countless questions have been asked about how someone who signed a $40 million NFL contract could simply throw it all away. While Hernandez’s troubled past doesn’t excuse that, it could help explain why.

Aaron Hernandez’s fiancee Shayanna Jenkins reportedly tried to hide evidence

Aaron HernandezIf Aaron Hernandez’s fiancee Shayanna Jenkins was somehow involved with what happened in the days and hours leading up to and after the night Odin Lloyd was murdered, we have yet to figure out how. Hernandez called Jenkins the day he was arrested to tell her to stop speaking with authorities. Prior to that, she told investigators that she was unfamiliar with Lloyd but began crying when she was informed he had been killed.

Jenkins likely stopped talking to police to avoid giving up information that could incriminate Hernandez, but has she gone further than that? According to the Hartford Courant, investigators recently searched a Bristol storage unit that was rented in Jenkins’ name because they believe she made “overt attempts to hide evidence … and to hinder and mislead.”

New court documents that were released on Friday included surveillance video, text messages, and an interview with Jenkins’ sister Shaneah that has led investigators to believe Shayanna may have knowledge of what happened to the murder weapon that was used to kill Lloyd. The documents also stated that Hernandez is believed to have called Jenkins the day after Lloyd’s body was found to ask her to dispose of weapons in his house.

[RelatedSheriff will try to prevent Aaron Hernandez from marrying in jail]

On June 18, the day after Lloyd’s body was found, Jenkins was reportedly seen on surveillance footage from Hernandez’s home carrying a trash bag out of the basement that contained a “rigid object” which authorities believe resembled a lock box or safe. She returned 35 minutes later and opened the trunk of her car, which allegedly showed that the trash bag was no longer there.

Shaneah Jenkins reportedly told police that she had a conversation with her uncle Azia Jenkins, during which he told her that Hernandez called Shayanna on June 18 to ask her to remove weapons from the house. Shaneah said she was told the weapons were later “disposed of in the woods.” Investigators also claim Shayanna and Hernandez exchanged cryptic texts which made mention of a box in the basement.

Jenkins has not been charged in connection with the investigation. Authorities have reportedly searched a stretch of highway and a lake in Hernandez’s hometown in an attempt to recover the murder weapon, but they have had no luck.

See all the LBS coverage of the Aaron Hernandez murder case

H/T Deadspin

TMZ reportedly paid $18,000 for Aaron Hernandez jail letter

Aaron HernandezAaron Hernandez apparently thought he could trust a fan he was exchanging mail with while in prison, but he was wrong. Last week, a copy of a letter Hernandez sent to a fan proclaiming his innocence appeared on TMZ and went viral. But how did they get their hands on it?

According to CBS Boston, a sports memorabilia shop called Sportsworld in Saugus, Mass. first bought the letter from a fan for $4,500. Jail officials reportedly later confirmed the authenticity of the letter, which Sportsworld owner Phil Castinetti turned around and sold to TMZ for $18,000.

“It was kind of eerie, knowing you have a letter that Hernandez had just written,” Castinetti told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 on Friday. “You read all the crazy things he’s been accused of, so it’s just a little weird.”

Prior to TMZ allegedly confirming with jail officials that the letter was authentic, Castinetti says he made sure the autograph at the bottom of the message was real.

“I’ve been in the business for almost 30 years and authenticating autographs is one of the things I do the most,” he said. “It was pretty easy; he has a distinct signature and it would be impossible for someone to copy it the way it’s done. It’s pretty easy to tell. I’m 100-percent positive it’s real.”

Castinetti’s assertion that he received $18,000 for the letter is consistent with a blog post from Barstool Sports earlier in the week. Barstool owner David Portnoy claimed the letter was offered to him for $20,000, and hours later it appeared on TMZ’s website. Castinetti said he thinks it could be worth “serious money” if Hernandez is found guilty because of the things he wrote.

See all the LBS coverage on the Aaron Hernandez murder case