The Aaron Hernandez case has a new defendant, the latest in a cast of characters surrounding the death of a 27-year-old acquaintance of the former pro football star.
Hernandez’s fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, who has a small child with him and has been seen sitting through court proceedings for the former NFL star, is the latest to be thrust in the case.
On Tuesday, Jenkins appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to a perjury charge leveled against her by a Massachusetts grand jury.
Investigators allege that Jenkins, 24, hid evidence crucial to their case against Hernandez, who is accused of shooting to death Odin Lloyd, who was dating Shayanna’s sister, Shaneah Jenkins. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to the alleged slaying and related gun charges.
In August, authorities said that Jenkins, along with Hernandez's cousin Tanya Singleton and Ernest Wallace "have all made overt attempts to hide evidence ... and to hinder and mislead this investigation."
Among the things authorities have not been able to find in the case is literally the smoking gun: the firearm used in the slaying.
In presenting his case to the Fall River, Massachusetts, court on Tuesday, Bristol County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Bomberg claimed that Jenkins destroyed a damning piece of evidence -- a box that the football star told her to “get rid of.” According to court documents, footage from home surveillance video shows Shayanna Jenkins leaving the North Attleboro house she shares with Hernandez with a large garbage bag a day after Lloyd’s body was found.
But where she went remains a mystery, Bomberg said.
"She told her sister that she was going to the bank, she told her uncle ... she was going to the store, she told the grand jurors that she was going to get baby formula," Bomberg said.
Hernandez’s fiancée has said little despite being badgered for months by authorities, her attorney Janice Bassil said, adding that she has immunity from grand jury testimony. Further, Bassil said, even if Jenkins were to tell all that she knows about her star athlete beau it would amount to very little. Jenkins has a “don’t ask, don’t tell” relationship with Hernandez, Bassil said.
“She could spend her life tracking him down and asking where he was every single minute, or she could choose to say what you do on your own time is your own time," the lawyer argued. "If you didn't do this, you didn't do this. I don't need to know any more detail." Bassil said.
Jenkins was released on her own recognizance Tuesday; the prosecution’s request for $5,000 bail was denied. The judge set a November 6 court date for the next hearing in Jenkins' case.