ATTLEBORO, Mass. (AP) — New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was charged with murder today, more than a week after a Boston semi-pro football player was found dead in an industrial park a mile from Hernandez's house.
Less than two hours after his arrest, the Patriots announced they had cut him from the team.
Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-pro football player for the Boston Bandits, was found slain June 17. Officials ruled the death a homicide but did not say how Lloyd died.
At a court arraignment today, prosecutors laid out evidence against Hernandez. They said Lloyd had been shot several times. Cellphone records from a phone that Hernandez had attempted to destroy played a key role in the evidence compiled against Hernandez. Also, prosecutors relied heavily on video surveillance tapes to pinpoint his movements. One key clip showed Hernandez holding a gun.
Prosecutors said Hernandez's motive was to avenge Lloyd for "disrespect" in a night club earlier in the evening.
Lloyd's relatives said he was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee, that the two men were friends and that the men were out together on the last night of Lloyd's life.
Hernandez was wearing a white V-neck T-shirt, with his arms inside the shirt and behind his back as he was led from his North Attleborough home Wednesday morning. He casually spit into some bushes on his way to a police cruiser.
Hernandez was arrested on a state police warrant at about 8:45 a.m., state police said on the agency's Twitter account. The agency said it wouldn't discuss the charge against Hernandez until the case was presented in Attleboro District Court later Wednesday.
Hernandez was taken from the North Attleborough police station to his court hearing Wednesday afternoon. About two dozen supporters cheered, some yelling "We love you Aaron," as the car carrying him left the police station.
At about 10:20 a.m., the Patriots announced they had released Hernandez and expressed sympathy to Lloyd's family and friends.
"Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation," the Patriots said in a statement. "We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do."
Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, declined to comment at her Boston home Wednesday morning.
"Nothing to say, please. Thank you," she said, before shutting the door.
State police have searched in and around Hernandez's sprawling home in North Attleborough several times. At least three search warrants have been issued in connection with the investigation.
The Patriots drafted Hernandez, who is originally from Bristol, Conn., out of the University of Florida in 2010. Last summer, the team gave him a five-year contract worth $40 million.
Associated Press writers Bridget Murphy in Boston and Howard Ulman contributed to this story.