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Judge approves Aaron Hernandez jail move

By By Susan Candiotti and Allie Malloy CNN
Published On: Jul 06 2014 11:17:20 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 07 2014 09:29:19 PM CDT
Aaron Hernandez in court

REUTERS/Josh Reynolds/POOL

(CNN) -

A Massachusetts judge granted a defense request Monday to transfer ex-New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez to a jail closer to his lawyers in Boston as he awaits trial on murder charges.

Judge Susan Garsh approved the move after Hernandez's lawyers asked to make the commute shorter between their law offices in Boston and the jail in Bristol County where Hernandez has been held for more than a year. Hernandez's lawyers have said the trip, about 60 miles, can take up to two hours in traffic.

Since his arrest in June 2013, Hernandez has been held at the Bristol House of Corrections in a 10-feet-by-7-feet cell.

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson told CNN that Hernandez likely will be transferred to another jail on Tuesday.

Watching the proceedings Monday were Hernandez's mother and older brother, DJ, who is an assistant coach at the University of Iowa. Both have remained silent on the charges.

Also in attendance was Ursula Ward, mother of murder victim Odin Lloyd.

Hernandez is charged with "orchestrating the execution" of Lloyd on June 17, 2013.

In a separate case, the former tight end also is charged in the drive-by shootings of Safiro Furtado and Daniel Abreu in Boston in 2012. That trial is set for May 2015.

He has pleaded not guilty to all three murder charges.

Judge Garsh did not finalize a trial date in the Lloyd case, unsure whether the defense could be ready by October as she had suggested. On Monday, defense lawyers suggested they might file a change of venue motion, which could delay the trial.

The judge also did not rule on previous defense motions to dismiss a first-degree murder charge or throw out a June 18, 2013 search warrant of Hernandez's home in relation to the Lloyd case.

Hernandez's lawyers have argued the state has failed to meet minimum probable-cause standards to make that first-degree murder charge stick.

In a June hearing, defense lawyer Jamie Sultan told a judge all he's heard is "a lot of smoke" but few specifics.

"Who killed Mr. Lloyd? Why? Whether it was part of a plan and if so, whose plan? What happened to the car, and what happened at the scene?" Sultan argued in that hearing.

The search warrant in question turned up evidence including surveillance video from interior cameras as well as cellphones, an iPad and other items.

The images include a still allegedly taken shortly after Lloyd's slaying that shows Hernandez holding what prosecutors believe is the murder weapon, according to a law enforcement source. A .45-caliber gun allegedly used to fire eight shots has never been found.

Defense attorneys argue investigators did not have the legally required search warrant paperwork with them.

In a motion, Hernandez' lawyers state a Massachusetts state trooper entering the house "clearly has no file folder in his hand," with documents.

If the defense successfully quashes the search warrant, the pictures from that search could become inadmissible.

Prosecutors maintain the search was carried out by the book.

On Wednesday, in a second court appearance this week, Hernandez's defense team hopes to get a court-approved subpoena to demand the New England Patriots turn over all medical records and psychological tests involving their former star tight end. So far, Hernandez' lawyers said there has been "no agreement" with the team over their request for documents.

A motion calls the records potential evidence that may bear upon Hernandez's state of mind and "physical and mental state" prior to Lloyd's murder.

The move indicates his attorneys might be considering a diminished capacity defense -- being less capable of knowing right from wrong -- legal experts said, if there is credible evidence.

"My instinct is they try to argue he wasn't mentally capable of planning or intending any murder, and thus, first degree murder should be off the table," University of New Hampshire law professor Michael McCann told CNN.

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