BOSTON (AP) — Prosecutors in the double murder case against former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez won’t get to search one of his cellphones, at least not for now, a judge ruled Monday.
Hernandez gave the phone to one of his attorneys during the investigation into the 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée. Hernandez is serving a life sentence after being convicted last year in Lloyd’s murder.
Hernandez is now awaiting trial in the killings of two men he encountered at a Boston nightclub in 2012.
Prosecutors sought an order to compel the law firm now holding the phone to turn it over and a search warrant to examine the phone, which they believe contains evidence they need for their case against Hernandez.
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke ruled Monday that Hernandez’s lawyers in the double murder case have not yet had the opportunity to review the phone for the purposes of providing legal advice to Hernandez. Locke’s ruling left open the possibility that prosecutors could obtain the phone and search it at a later date.
Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley, said the ruling makes it clear that prosecutors have largely met their burden for obtaining the phone, but it is still unclear how much longer it will be necessary for Hernandez’s lawyers to examine its contents before the time period needed for legal advice is complete. Wark said prosecutors are reviewing options for possibly appealing the ruling.
No date has been set for Hernandez’s trial. He has pleaded not guilty in the fatal shootings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.
Prosecutors say Hernandez became irate after one of the men spilled Hernandez’s drink at a nightclub. They say he opened fire at their car while it was stopped at a light.
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