A day after former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was charged with murder prosecutors in the case claimed that the NFL star "orchestrated his execution" following a fight in a night club.
Hernandez pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and five firearms charges, more than a week after the body of Odin Lloyd, 27, was found near his Massachusetts home. A judge ordered him held without bail.
Hernandez "drove the victim to the remote spot, and he then orchestrated his execution. That's what it was," First Assistant District Attorney William McCauley said in Attleboro District Court.
"As (Lloyd) tried to turn, he was shot in the back, and the defendant and his confederates stood over him and delivered the two fatal shots," McCauley said, adding: "He orchestrated the crime from the beginning and took steps to conceal and destroy evidence."
The body of Lloyd, 27, was found June 17 in the woods near Hernandez's home and police had visited the house several times in the past week.
Hernandez was seen partying with Lloyd at a Boston nightclub on Friday night; police reviewed the surveillance video from the club in order to put together a timeline of Lloyd's last days and hours. He was found dead, shot in the back of the head, around 5:30 p.m. Monday by a jogger. Police believe he was killed between 1:00 and 6:00 a.m. that morning.
The Patriots released a statement following their decision release Hernandez:
"A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss. Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation. 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."