The judge in a murder trial case against former New England Patriots tight-end Aaron Hernandez has made pre-trial rulings that include immunity offers for both his fiancee and cousin. Jennifer Mercado, who is the sister of the football player’s cousin Tanya Singleton according to ESPN, was granted immunity today (January 7) to testify in the soon-to-start murder trial while Hernandez’s fiancee Shayanna Jenkins has her own separate immunity petition on the table. Jenkins has been accused of lying to a grand jury investigating the case but pled not guilty to the charge. Both Jenkins and Hernandez’s mother have also been allowed to attend the trial despite the possibility that they’ll be called upon as witnesses.
Meanwhile, Superior Court Justice Susan Garsh also denied prosecutors’ requests to cover a trophy case at the football player’s home when jurors visit as a part of the trial. An Assistant District Attorney working on the case claimed that Hernandez’s defense team aimed “to get the benefit of having the jury be impressed by trophies or medals” according to a separate ESPN report.
Jury selection for the case will begin on Friday (January 9). Hernandez is charged with the killing of 27-year old semipro football player Odin Lloyd who was previously dating his fiancee’s sister. The alleged murder took place in June 2013 and the fourth-round draft pick has pled not guilty. Hernandez also pleaded not guilty to the 2012 shootings of two men in a separate case that has yet to go to trial.
According to ESPN, “the trial is expected to last six to 10 weeks” and could include testimony from Patriots coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft.
Watch a short clip of the pretrial hearings below: