By Scott Malone
BOSTON (Reuters) – Former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of murdering two men he met in a Boston nightclub in 2012.
The former New England Patriot, who is already in jail awaiting trial on charges of murdering a semi-professional football player in June 2013 was charged earlier this month in the 2012 killing of Cape Verdean nationals Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado.
Hernandez appeared dressed in a suit and tie but remained handcuffed throughout an afternoon hearing at Suffolk Superior Court in Boston. Members of his family began to weep loudly upon his entry in the courtroom.
Prosecutors said that after leaving the nightclub, Hernandez followed the car that Abreu and Furtado were riding in, pulled up alongside and shot the two men dead with a handgun. There was no evidence that he had previously known his victims or that the pair was involved in any criminal activity, prosecutors said.
Investigators linked Hernandez, 24, to the double-murder after the death of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, who was found shot to death in an industrial park near Hernandez’s house in South Attleboro, Massachusetts, last June. Hernandez was previously charged in Lloyd’s murder and is being held at the Bristol County Jail awaiting trial.
Hernandez had been seen as a rising star in the league and had a contract with the Patriots worth about $40 million. The team dropped him hours after his arrest.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)