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Patriots RB Shane Vereen: Aaron Hernandez arrest ‘definitely’ surprising

Shane VereenAaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and five other gun-related charges for the shooting death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd last month. As soon as Hernandez was implicated in the murder, the New England Patriots began distancing themselves from the tight end. They cut him the morning he was arrested.

Though the team and owner Robert Kraft have commented on Hernandez, very little has been heard from the team’s current players. LBS spoke with Pats running back Shane Vereen on Monday about the team’s reaction to the situation.

“I haven’t really talked to many guys,” Vereen told Larry Brown Sports, “but the guys I have talked to, we’re still united, we’re still a team. It’s something we have to move on from and focus on the season.”

Vereen, who is entering his third season in the league, spoke to LBS at the Bear Trap Entertainment All-Star Celebrity Kickoff Party at the Playboy Mansion on Monday night, and said he was surprised by Hernandez’s arrest.

“Definitely,” Vereen answered when asked if the arrest surprised him. “But at the same time, we don’t really know much about it. At the same time all we can really do is go out and play football and do what we can do.”

[Related: Ex-Pats OL Matt Light never believed in what Hernandez stood for]

There were reports that Vereen lined up as a receiver at times during the spring and that he could do that some more during the season as a way of filling Hernandez’s role in the offense. Vereen was vague about those plans when asked.

“We do a lot of things with our offense. A lot of people with a lot of different positions. I’ve lined up at receiver before, we might do it again this year. You never know. Depends on what the coaches feel like.”

Vereen is hoping the team and offense can repeat their past success in the upcoming season.

“Hopefully some wins,” Vereen said when asked about expectations for the season. “It’s all about the team, it’s all about the offense as a unit. Hopefully we can be as successful as we’ve been in past seasons.”

Vereen is the latest in a strong line of running backs to come from Cal. From J.J. Arrington to Marshawn Lynch to Justin Forsett, Jahvid Best, and now Vereen, Cal has put a number of running backs in the NFL in the past decade. Vereen told LBS that is a source of pride for them.

“Yeah, we take big pride in that. A lot of is credit to our former running back coach Ron Gould, who’s now the head coach at UC Davis. We work hard at that and take pride in it.”

Vereen saw an increased workload last season and more action in the playoffs. With Danny Woodhead gone, he should see even more work this season.

Maurkice Pouncey apologizes for wearing ‘Free Hernandez’ hat

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Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey has apologized for his wardrobe selection over the weekend. As you likely saw, Maurkice and his twin brother Mike wore hats that said “Free Hernandez” to a club in Miami on Saturday night while celebrating their birthday.

There was speculation over the weekend that the Steelers had already spoken to Maurkice about the ramifications that are associated with supporting Aaron Hernandez as he awaits trial for a murder charge. On Monday morning, Maurkice posted a message on Twitter.

“I fully recognize the seriousness of the situation involving my former teammate, and I regret that my actions appear to make light of that serious situation,” he wrote. “I apologize to anyone who was offended by my actions.”

There is no word yet on whether the Dolphins had a similar talk with Mike, but don’t be surprised if an apology is coming from him as well. The Pouncey brothers were friends with Hernandez at Florida and even had their names mentioned in a report about a shooting that took place in Gainesville back in 2007.

[RelatedSnoop Dogg shows support for Aaron Hernandez]

There’s no way two grown men didn’t know that wearing hats supporting a person who has been charged with murder would cause a stir. I’m sure they got exactly what they want with all the attention it received. The apology might as well have come directly from the Steelers, because we all know they were behind it.

Carlos Ortiz labeled ‘rat’ in neighborhood for giving up Aaron Hernandez

Carlos OrtizThree weeks ago, Carlos Ortiz had a much different relationship with former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. The 27-year-old was not a star witness who may be providing investigators with enough information to put Hernandez away for life. Instead, he was a close friend.

Ortiz hangs around on a street called Davis Drive in Bristol, Conn. — where Hernandez also grew up. He is known as “Charlie” in his neighborhood and has several family members who live there, including three children he has fathered with three women. According to USA Today Sports, the residents of Davis Drive used to cover for him when he got into trouble with the law. But now, Ortiz has been labeled a “rat.”

“He was one of us,” Ortiz’s cousin Jose Torres told USA Today Sports.

Ortiz is currently being held without bail for his potential involvement in the murder of Odin Lloyd, and jail may be a safer place for him than his own neighborhood. Amber Schryer, who said she used to let Ortiz crash on her couch, summarized what the people of Davis Drive are feeling about the Hernandez situation.

[Read more...]

Mike and Maurkice Pouncey wear ‘Free Hernandez’ hats to birthday party

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Twin brothers Mike and Maurkice Pouncey were teammates with Aaron Hernandez at the University of Florida. The three stars won a BCS National Championship together in 2009 and reportedly hung out together, so you can understand why the Pounceys might continue to support their friend as he awaits trial for the murder of Odin Lloyd.

Just don’t do it publicly.

Twitter user @JazzyNice5 shared a photo of the Pouncey brothers wearing “Free Hernandez” hats on Saturday night while they were celebrating their birthday at Cameo nightclub in Miami. Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun Sentinel confirmed that the twins were there, and Maurkice tweeted the following photo earlier in the night:

[Read more...]

Aaron Hernandez got security system at mansion because of break-in attempts

Aaron Hernandez mansion

Aaron Hernandez recently outfitted his mansion with a sophisticated security system to combat multiple break-in attempts at the residence, his girlfriend reportedly told police.

According to the Boston Herald, Hernandez’s girlfriend, Shayanna Jenkins, told police “there had been several 
recent break-in attempts at their residence,” leading the former New England Patriots tight end to install a security system at his North Attleboro, Mass., home this spring. The break-in attempts also reportedly led Hernandez to lease his “flop house” in Franklin in late April.

At least 14 security cameras were in place around Hernandez’s home to record surveillance video. A police report states that a security expert came to the mansion in May to show Hernandez how to connect and disconnect individual cameras in case he didn’t want some things being recorded.

Hernandez reportedly destroyed the hard drive for his home security system and turned off cameras for a certain amount of time the night of Odin Lloyd’s murder.

Installing a sophisticated security system to protect your mansion is not at all unusual, but having several recent break-in attempts at the home could indicate some shady activity was being conducted there.

See all the LBS coverage of the Aaron Hernandez murder investigation

Image via WPRI

Aaron Hernandez will reportedly remain in solitary confinement

Aaron HernandezAaron Hernandez was placed in solitary confinement at the Bristol County House of Corrections immediately after he was booked, and it appears that is where the former New England Patriots tight end is going to remain for the foreseeable future.

TMZ reported on Friday that jail officials have stated it is in Hernandez’s “best interest” to remain isolated from the other inmates and away from the jail population. Jail officials reportedly met yesterday and determined that there is still a chance Hernandez could be in danger, so they have decided to stick with the current course of action for now.

When Hernandez was first placed behind bars, jail officials examined his tattoos — including this one on his right hand — and interviewed the 23-year-old to determine if he was affiliated with any gangs. Hernandez reportedly denied having any ties to gangs and correctional officers did not find reason to believe otherwise, but sheriff Thomas Hogson said Hernandez would not have one-on-one interaction with other inmates to prevent someone from trying to “make a name for himself.”

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union likened Hernandez’s situation in solitary confinement to “torture.” Despite their concerns and the fact that Hernandez has been described as a “model inmate,” jail officials have not given any indication that he will be moved. TMZ also reported that he has had visitors while in jail, though sources could not say who has gone to see him.

See all the LBS coverage of the Aaron Hernandez murder investigation

Aaron Hernandez accuser Carlos Ortiz admitted to using drugs and alcohol daily

Carlos OrtizAaron Hernandez and his attorneys have a lot of work to do if they plan to somehow attempt to prove he is innocent. The evidence piling up against Hernandez looks quite incriminating, with much of it stemming from information his friend Carlos Ortiz gave to authorities. However, defense attorneys will surely look to prove that Ortiz is not a credible witness.

How will they do that? For starters, they could point to Ortiz’s admitted history of abusing drugs and alcohol. According to an affidavit for a recent arrest on a probation violation that was obtained by USA Today Sports, Ortiz admitted to substance abuse in a meeting with his probation officer on May 21. The documents stated that he “disclosed that he was abusing PCP, alcohol and THC daily.”

[Related: Carlos Ortiz told police Aaron Hernandez admitted to firing shots]

At that point, Ortiz was ordered to enter an in-patient drug program but reportedly missed an appointment two days later. The affidavit said that he went on to avoid treatment for the next month, saying that he lost his cell phone and telling his probation officer on June 18 that he wasn’t sure where to go to enter the program. Six days prior, he allegedly failed a drug test for alcohol, cocaine, PCP and THC.

When Ortiz surfaced on surveillance footage at Aaron Hernandez’s home the night Odin Lloyd was murdered, it was the first time his probation officers knew of his whereabouts in two weeks. Ortiz’s presence in Massachusetts violated his probation for fifth-degree larceny, and he was arrested by police in Bristol, Conn. on June 25.

[Related: Carlos Ortiz led investigators to Aaron Hernandez's apartment]

And now, here we are. Ortiz is probably the most important witness in the Hernandez case. Does his history of drug and alcohol abuse mean the information he has given about Hernandez is inaccurate? No, but a jury will have to decide if it makes him a less credible witness.