Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez appeared in court today to hear prosecutors claim they have found additional evidence that Hernandez murdered his friend, but during the hearing detectives seized the cell phone of Hernandez’s cousin, ABC News has learned.
The cousin, Tanya Singleton, shared a home with Ernest Wallace, who is charged as Hernandez’s accomplice in the June 17 murder of Odin Lloyd.
A third man, Carlos Ortiz, is also charged in the murder.
After today’s hearing, a Massachusetts state trooper assigned to the Hernandez case approached Singleton in court, handed her a search warrant, and seized her cell phone.
As she reviewed the warrant in the court hallway, Singleton told ABC News “I am not talking about it.”
Hernandez’s longtime girlfriend Shayana Jenkins added, “Get away from us. We’re not talking.”
Investigators later executed a search warrant at Singleton’s Bristol, Conn., address, several sources told ABC News.
A spokesman for the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office, Gregg Miliote, declined to provide details, saying: “I cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.”
Singleton’s husband, Thaddeus Singleton III, 33, was being sought for questioning as a potential witness in connection with the Hernandez case, but he died in a car crash before detectives could speak with him.
Hernandez appeared in court today wearing a tailored suit and white button-down shirt with his hands cuffed in front of him. The former NFL star nodded to Singleton, who sat with Jenkins, the mother of his infant daughter, in the back of the court.
The women had to walk wordlessly past the Lloyd family, who cried at some points during the hearing. The Lloyd family wore buttons emblazoned with his face over the words “Rest Easy Big O.” Jenkins’ sister Shanea was Lloyd’s girlfriend at the time of his murder.
During the court hearing, prosecutors said that the motive for Lloyd’s murder could center around what the victim knew about a double homicide in Boston in 2012.
Bristol County Assistant District Attorney William McCauley told the judge that the state needs additional time to present mounting evidence in front of the grand jury.
During his argument, he cited new evidence in the case, saying that Hernandez’s fingerprint was recovered from a box of .45 caliber ammunition found in a “flophouse”Hernandez rented in Franklin. Another Hernandez fingerprint was lifted from the gearshift of a Hummer registered to the ex-NFL player, where investigators recovered a fully loaded .45 caliber clip inside.
Lloyd, 27, a semi-pro football player, was shot five times with .45 caliber handgun in an industrial park less than a mile from the $1.2 million mansion in North Attleboro Hernandez shares with Jenkins. Singleton has lived there since her cousin’s arrest on June 26.
A judge granted the state’s request and ordered that a probable cause hearing on the evidence be moved to Aug. 22.
Attorneys for Hernandez, who has denied the charges, were furious that the delay was granted. Lawyer James Sultan told the judge that his client has been “sitting in a solitary cell” at the Bristol County Correctional Center. Sultan said Hernandez wants to hear the evidence against him.
“The sooner the better,” Sultan told the court.
Outside the courthouse another Hernandez attorney Charles Rankin told reporters that his client was “extremely upset” at the hearing delay.
“We are confident that Aaron will be exonerated,” Rankin said.
Wallace, like Hernandez, has pleaded not guilty. It’s not clear if Ortiz has entered a plea.
District Court Judge Daniel O’Shea also ruled on motions filed by the press to release search warrants relating to the Hernandez investigation. Those documents will be released tomorrow afternoon, the judge ruled.
Before the hearing, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the team will learn from “this terrible experience.”
“We’ll continue to evaluate the way that we do things, the way that we evaluate our players and we’ll do it on a regular basis,” Belichick said. “I’m not perfect on that, but I always do what I think is best for the football team.”