Aaron Hernandez excused from hearing in drive-by shooting case in which 2 were killed

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Defense attorneys James Sultan, below left, and Charlie Rankin appear during a pretrial hearing for former New England Patriots NFL football player Aaron Hernandez, Thursday, Aug. 14, 201, in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston. Prosecutors allege that Hernandez ambushed and shot to death two men in 2012 after a chance encounter inside a Boston nightclub. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, Pool)


Judge Jeffrey Locke addresses the court during a pretrial hearing for former New England Patriots NFL football player Aaron Hernandez Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston. Prosecutors allege that Hernandez ambushed and shot to death two men in 2012 after a chance encounter inside a Boston nightclub. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, Pool)


Judge Jeffrey Locke addresses the court during a pretrial hearing for former New England Patriots NFL football player Aaron Hernandez Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston. Prosecutors allege that Hernandez ambushed and shot to death two men in 2012 after a chance encounter inside a Boston nightclub. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, Pool)


Judge Jeffrey Locke, far right, speaks to attorneys during a sidebar at a pretrial hearing for former New England Patriots NFL football player Aaron Hernandez Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston. Prosecutors allege that Hernandez ambushed and shot to death two men in 2012 after a chance encounter inside a Boston nightclub. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, Pool)


FILE - In this July 22, 2014, file photo, former New England Patriots' Aaron Hernandez watches during a hearing in Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Mass. The former New England Patriots player is due in court Thursday Aug. 14, 2014 for a pretrial hearing in the 2012 drive-by killings of two men outside a Boston nightclub in 2012. Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley’s office says Thursday afternoon’s hearing is “purely administrative in nature” as both sides prepare for a May 28, 2015 trial. (AP Photo/CJ Gunther, Pool, File)


BOSTON — Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez was excused from a pre-trial hearing Thursday in his Boston double homicide case.

Hernandez's defense team asked the judge to waive his appearance before the Suffolk County Superior Court hearing, which consisted mainly of both sides conferring at length with the judge out of hearing range from the courtroom audience.

Hernandez, who was recently transferred to a Boston jail to be closer to his lawyers, is next due to appear in court on the Boston murder charges on Oct. 21. The two sides are expected to discuss evidence suppression and other pre-trial issues in preparation for a May 28 trial.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder in the deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado after one of the Boston men apparently spilled a drink on him in a nightclub.

Hernandez also pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in the 2013 slaying of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player whose bullet-ridden body was found in an industrial park near his North Attleborough home. Lloyd had been dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee.

The trial in that case is scheduled for October.

In the Boston case, prosecutors say Hernandez and a friend found the two victims in their car at a red light sometime after the nightclub encounter. Hernandez fired at least five shots into the car, killing the two men and injuring a third, investigators said.

The Boston killings came about six weeks before Hernandez signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the Patriots, who have since released him.

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