FALL RIVER (AP) — The girlfriend of former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a perjury charge for allegedly lying to a Massachusetts grand jury, including about disposing of evidence in the murder case against him.
Shayanna Jenkins was released on personal recognizance during her arraignment in Fall River Superior Court on a single perjury count. Prosecutors had sought $5,000 cash bail.
In August, Jenkins lied to the grand jury hearing evidence in the case, including about where she threw out a box Hernandez asked her to “get rid of” in the aftermath of Odin Lloyd’s killing, Bristol County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Bomberg said.
Jenkins initially invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, but was later granted immunity for her testimony, Bomberg said.
Hernandez, 23, has pleaded not guilty to the June murder of Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-pro football player from Boston who was dating Jenkins’ sister. He is being held without bail.
In court Tuesday, Bomberg said that the day after Lloyd was killed, Jenkins retrieved the box from the basement of the home she shared with Hernandez in North Attleborough, Mass., put it in a trash bag, covered it with baby clothes and drove away with it. Jenkins repeatedly told grand jurors she threw the box in a Dumpster but couldn’t recall where, according to Bomberg.
Bomberg did not say what is believed to have been in the box. Hernandez associate Carlos Ortiz, who is charged as an accessory in the case, has told investigators that Hernandez put firearms in a box in his basement after the killing, according to court records. Prosecutors have said the murder weapon has not been found.
Defense attorney Janice Bassil said Jenkins answered every question asked of her before the grand jury and that prosecutors were overreaching with the perjury charge. She said there is no evidence Jenkins lied and that prosecutors sought the indictment simply because they didn’t believe her. She called lead prosecutor William McCauley’s questioning of Jenkins “extremely aggressive” and heavy-handed.