Court hearing in murder case of ex-New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez to focus on jury issues

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FALL RIVER, Massachusetts — A pre-trial hearing is scheduled Monday for former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez, whose murder trial is slated to start next month.

The hearing at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River is expected to focus on jury issues. Jury selection is scheduled to start Jan. 9.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to the June 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee.

Hernandez also has pleaded not guilty in a separate case: The fatal shootings of two men in 2012 after an encounter at a Boston nightclub.

Prosecutors preparing for the case involving Lloyd have sought to admit a range of evidence related to Hernandez's other alleged crimes, including the Boston homicides and unlawful possession of firearms.

But Judge E. Susan Garsh has ruled that prosecutors cannot talk about the Boston killings, which prosecutors suggest may have been part of Hernandez's motivation for killing Lloyd.

Garsh also has ruled that prosecutors cannot submit as evidence the final text messages Lloyd sent his sister, including one sent just minutes before he was fatally shot at an industrial park near Hernandez's North Attleborough home.

Prosecutors say Lloyd sent the messages while in a car with Hernandez and suggested they showed he had become fearful. One said, "U saw who I'm with" and another indicated the person was "NFL," referring to Hernandez, adding "just so u know."

Garsh also has ruled that prosecutors cannot introduce the shooting of Alexander Bradley, a former Hernandez associate who has filed a lawsuit claiming the ex-player shot him in the face after an argument in Florida in 2013.

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