Amid allegations that former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez fought a fellow prisoner while incarcerated at Bristol County House of Correction, the eye-opening details of the altercation have begun leaking to the press.
Updates from Thursday, May 1
The Associated Press (via Boston's 7 News) reports that a verdict on Hernandez's role in a jailhouse scuffle:
Massachusetts prosecutors say former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has been indicted in a February jail assault and in a November threat at the jail.
The Bristol County district attorney's office says Hernandez was indicted Thursday on charges of assault and battery and threats to do bodily harm. No further details have been released. An arraignment date hasn't been set.
While it was initially unclear whether Hernandez or the unnamed prisoner was the aggressor, a TMZ source close to the situation points the finger right at Hernandez. The source claims not only did Hernandez start the fight, but he also attacked the other inmate while he was handcuffed.
Hernandez, who was not handcuffed at the time, allegedly pummeled him in a brief but "brutal" attack. Neither man needed medical attention after the brawl. In a statement released to the press, Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson has indicated his office will be reviewing surveillance to determine what actually happened:
An altercation took place between two inmates, and one of them was Aaron Hernandez. We will be studying video and proceeding with interviews to determine why and how the incident took place to determine whether internal discipline or criminal charges are warranted.
Hernandez has been placed in solitary confinement for a month, according to NECN.com (via ESPN):
Aaron Hernandez has been punished for a physical altercation with another inmate by being relocated to a more isolated part of the Bristol County Jail where he must spend 23 hours a day and eat meals in his cell, according to a local report.
Hernandez was relocated to the more restricted unit for 30 days as a result of a "brief physical altercation," NECN.com reported Wednesday, citing the Bristol County Sheriff's Office in Massachusetts.
Hernandez is typically held out of general population for his safety, but a TMZ report noted he and the other prisoner had problems in the past. The former Pro Bowl tight end was allegedly the subject of verbal abuse, and when given the chance to act out, Hernandez took the opportunity. It's unclear at this time why the two were in the hallway at the same time—or why Hernandez was allowed to walk free without cuffs.
Hodgson denied any previous knowledge of tension between the two men.
“We don’t know what, if any, relationship there was or has been at any point, either here or anywhere else,” Hodgson told The Associated Press, via The Washington Post.
If Hernandez is found to be the aggressor, he could face any number of punishments. The jail could simply handle the matter internally by placing further restrictions on Hernandez's freedom, and criminal assault charges are not out of the question. The maximum penalty for an assault conviction in a Massachusetts House of Corrections is two-and-a-half years, per MyFoxBoston.
Because of the high-profile nature of Hernandez's case, any slight perception of preferential treatment would not be good for Hodgson or his department.
Hernandez, 24, was charged with the first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd in June. Lloyd, 27, was found dead less than a mile away from Hernandez's North Attleboro, Mass., home on June 16. Hernandez, who had been an acquaintance of Lloyd, was said to have targeted his former friend after a falling out.
Police allege Hernandez's actions were premeditated, and surveillance footage shows Hernandez holding what appears to be a gun on the night of the murder. Police believe that gun to be the .45-caliber Glock used to kill Lloyd. Hernandez and his attorneys have denied all allegations, claiming the evidence is circumstantial.
He was indicted on the charges by a grand jury in August and pleaded not guilty in September. Two other men, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, have each been arrested in connection with Lloyd's death.
Boston police are also looking into Hernandez's involvement in a drive-by double murder in 2012. The car allegedly used in the double murder was taken from the home of Hernandez's uncle last year, and an affidavit claims there is “probable cause to believe Hernandez was operating the suspect vehicle used in the shooting deaths, and may have been the shooter,” per Kevin Armstrong of the New York Daily News.
Hernandez is currently being held in Dartmouth without bond. There has been no trial date set for his case at this time, and Hernandez will remain incarcerated barring a changed ruling from the judge. With Hernandez involved in prison fights, odds are he'll remain behind bars for the foreseeable future.
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