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Hernandez pleads not guilty to murder indictment

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2013, file photo, former New England Patriots NFL football player Aaron Hernandez appears during a brief hearing in district court in Attleboro, Mass. Hernandez, who has been indicted on a murder charge in the killing of Odin Lloyd, is scheduled to face arraignment in Superior Court on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 in Fall River, Mass. (AP Photo/The Sun Chronicle, Mike George, Pool, File)

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2013, file photo, former New England Patriots NFL football player Aaron Hernandez appears during a brief hearing in district court in Attleboro, Mass. Hernandez, who has been indicted on a murder charge in the killing of Odin Lloyd, is scheduled to face arraignment in Superior Court on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 in Fall River, Mass. (AP Photo/The Sun Chronicle, Mike George, Pool, File)

Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge yesterday in Fall River, Mass., following his indictment in the killing of a friend authorities say was shot five times in an industrial park.

Hernandez firmly answered “not guilty” to six charges, including murder and weapons and ammunition possession charges.

His attorneys agreed that Hernandez, 23, will continue to be held without bail, but reserved the right to request bail later. His next court hearing was set for Oct. 9.

Defense attorney Charles Rankin said Hernandez’s lawyers are confident that Hernandez will be exonerated during a trial. “Not one shred of evidence has been presented yet,” he said.

The arraignment “is like the opening kickoff,” Rankin said, and encouraged people to keep an open mind and let the lawyers do their work.

Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter said, in fact, a “tremendous amount” of evidence has already been presented. He cited 500 pages of documents, including search warrants, photographs and arrest warrant reports.

“I think that evidence speaks for itself,” he said.

A Massachusetts grand jury last month returned the indictment against Hernandez in the death of Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-professional football player from Boston who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s girlfriend.

Hernandez was arrested in June and pleaded not guilty to murder and weapons charges in district court. The indictment moves the case to superior court, where jury trials in murder cases are held.

Hernandez, who was cut from the Patriots within hours of his arrest, has been held without bail.

Prosecutors said the former NFL star orchestrated Lloyd’s killing because he was upset at Lloyd for talking to some people with whom Hernandez had problems at a nightclub a few days earlier.

Defense attorneys said the evidence is circumstantial and the state’s case won’t hold up.

Two other men who prosecutors said were with Hernandez when Lloyd was killed are also facing charges. Ernest Wallace was indicted on a charge of accessory to murder after the fact. He earlier pleaded not guilty to the same charge in district court and was ordered held on $500,000 bail.

Carlos Ortiz pleaded not guilty to a firearms charge and is being held without bail. He has not been indicted.

Lloyd’s body was found by a jogger June 17 in an industrial park in North Attleboro, Mass., about a mile from Hernandez’s home.

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