Former NFL football player Aaron Hernandez watches during a hearing in Bristol County Superior Court Tuesday, July 22, 2014, in Fall River, Mass. Tuesday's status hearing comes a day after Hernandez's lawyers protested that live broadcasts of two previous hearings violated state court rules by showing Hernandez's private conversations with his legal team. (AP Photo/CJ Gunther, Pool)
FALL RIVER, Massachusetts — A judge has rejected a motion to dismiss charges against Aaron Hernandez stemming from the 2013 slaying of a Boston man whose body was found near Hernandez's home.
Lawyers for Hernandez, a former New England Patriots tight end, argued that prosecutors hadn't shown probable cause to sustain the murder charge against Hernandez in the death of Odin Lloyd and hadn't presented any evidence or motive for the slaying.
Bristol Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh said in her ruling Thursday that probable cause, and a defendant's guilt, can be established by circumstantial evidence, and prosecutors don't need to prove a motive to secure a murder conviction.
The grand jury heard "sufficient evidence" to establish probable cause that Hernandez "intentionally participated in some meaningful way" in Lloyd's death, she wrote.
Hernandez's lawyers had also moved to dismiss an unlawful possession of a firearm charge, partially on the grounds that prosecutors presented improper evidence to the grand jury of Hernandez's alleged prior bad acts involving guns.
"After reading all the grand jury transcripts, the court has a firm belief that the grand jury would have returned the indictments it did even if the disputed items of evidence had not been presented," Garsh said in the decision.
Hernandez is being held without bail after pleading not guilty to killing Lloyd, who was dating Hernandez's fiancee's sister. His trial is scheduled to start Jan. 9.
On Friday, prosecutors filed a motion asking a judge to authorize so-called "exhaustive" testing of several DNA samples. They include samples collected from Lloyd's fingernail scrapings; a .22-caliber pistol recovered along a road that is the route between where Lloyd's body was found and Hernandez's home; and guns and ammunition taken from his home and two vehicles, according to the filing.
Such requests are made in cases where there are limited amounts of DNA, and an authorization allows the whole sample to be used up.
Hernandez is also charged with killing two men in Boston in August 2012. He has pleaded not guilty.