Lawyers for accused killer Aaron Hernandez were dealt a setback Tuesday when a Suffolk County, Mass. Superior Court judge refused their request for a gag order on parties in the double homicide case.
Hernandez, a Bristol, Conn. native, is charged with the murders of two men during a July 2012 drive-by shooting in Boston. The former New England Patriot tight end also faces a third murder charge in Bristol County, Mass., charged in the June 2013 slaying of Odin Lloyd.
After Hernandez was indicted in the Boston case earlier this spring, his attorneys filed a motion asking the court to issue an order that would prohibit parties in the case from discussing evidence outside of court.
Defense attorney James Sultan argued in court last week that Hernandez's right to a fair trial was threatened by the "extremely high public visibility and media attention" both murder cases have received.
Prosecutors argued in court filings that the gag order proposed by defense lawyers was far from the least restrictive means through which to minimize potential effects of publicity leading up to the trial, which has been tentatively scheduled for next May.
Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Locke denied the request and sided with prosecutors, saying that Massachusetts rules of conduct are sufficient to address the concerns raised in the defense motion.
The judge in the Lloyd case imposed a gag order, but did so only after media outlets reported that Miami Dolphin center Mike Pouncey was served a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury investigating Hernandez's role in interstate gun trafficking.
"At this point, as to the Suffolk County case, there is nothing before the court to suggest that an order limiting the conduct and statements of the attorneys or their agents involved in this case is warranted at this time," Locke wrote.