FALL RIVER, Mass. -- Former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez was indicted Thursday on a first-degree murder charge in the death of a friend whose bullet-riddled body was found in an industrial park about a mile from the ex-player's home.
The six-count grand jury indictment charges Hernandez with killing 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player from Boston who was dating the sister of Hernandez's girlfriend. It also contains weapons counts, according to the Fall River division of Bristol County Superior Court.
Hernandez, 23, pleaded not guilty to murder and weapons charges in June, and he is being held without bail at a county jail. His lawyers say the case against him is circumstantial and they're confident he will be able to clear his name.
Hernandez signed a new Patriots contract last summer worth $40 million but was cut from the team within hours of his June 26 arrest, when police led the handcuffed athlete from his home as news cameras rolled.
He could face life in prison if convicted. He was due to appear in Attleboro court later Thursday.
A jogger found Lloyd's body on June 17 in a North Attleborough industrial park. His mother, Ursula Ward, called him a loving son who never hurt anyone and implored law enforcement officials to get justice for his slaying.
Prosecutors say Hernandez orchestrated Lloyd's killing because he was upset at him for talking to people Hernandez had problems with at a nightclub days earlier. They say Hernandez and two associates, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, picked Lloyd up at his home in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood early on June 17 and then drove to the industrial park.
Shortly before his death, authorities say, Lloyd sent his sister text messages. He asked if she had seen who he was with when he got into the car in Boston. Then he indicated who it was in a way that Lloyd's family said he knew his sister would understand. "NFL," he wrote. "Just so you know."
Moments later, authorities say, Lloyd was dead after gunshots rang out in an unpaved construction area by a warehouse after he apparently got out of the car for what he thought was a bathroom break.