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July 4, 2013

Before arrest, Hernandez no stranger to violence

BOSTON (AP) — When Aaron Hernandez first went before a judge to face a murder charge, a defense attorney said the former New England Patriots tight end had never been accused of a violent crime. But Hernandez is apparently no stranger to violence.

Since he was arrested last week in the shooting death of a friend whose body was found a mile away from Hernandez’s home, a portrait has emerged of a man whose life away from the field included frequent encounters with police that started as long ago as his freshman year at the University of Florida.

An acquaintance who sued Hernandez, claiming he was shot after a fight in a strip club earlier this year. A 2007 bar fight that left a restaurant worker with a burst eardrum. An unsolved double killing at a Boston nightclub last summer. All violent incidents, all with possible ties to the once-dominating athlete who now sits in a private cell for his own protection.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty in the shooting death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, whose body was found June 17 not far from Hernandez’s North Attleborough, Mass., mansion. His defense team has called the case circumstantial and said Hernandez looks forward to clearing his name.

Authorities searched a Franklin condominium Hernandez had rented and found the same caliber ammunition used in Lloyd’s slaying and a white hooded sweatshirt and a baseball cap similar to those Hernandez was allegedly wearing that night, according to search warrant records in Wrentham District Court.

But even before the 23-year-old’s recent arrest, public records and interviews show he had been involved in police inquiries in the past, first in Florida and then in the Boston area.

A sworn court complaint from Florida’s Eighth Judicial Circuit details Hernandez’s apparent involvement in an April 2007 fight at a restaurant called The Swamp in Gainesville. The partially redacted document says the restaurant worker told police that Hernandez, who was then 17, punched him in the head while he was escorting the subject out of the business after a dispute about payment of a bill.

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