Since the time Aaron Hernandez was indicted for the murder of Odin Lloyd back in 2013, we knew there would always be two problems for the prosecution when it came time to try and get a conviction -- a lack of credible witnesses from the night of the murder willing to testify against Hernandez, and the lack of a murder weapon.
Well, a lot may have changed on Tuesday, as the prosecution may be a whole lot closer to having both of those items. Indeed, with the news that his fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, would be granted immunity for her testimony, the walls may finally be closing in on Aaron Hernandez.
On Tuesday, Judge Susan E. Garsh endorsed an application to grant Jenkins immunity from prosecution if she would testify against Hernandez in his ongoing trial for the murder of Odin Lloyd, and now it would appear she could be the government's star witness. Jenkins, for her part, is facing possible perjury charges for lying to a grand jury in the wake of Lloyd's murder, so her testimony is essentially a "Stay Out Of Jail Free" card.
Hernandez was charged back in June of 2013 with the planning and execution of the murder of Lloyd, a semi-pro football player and an acquaintance of Hernandez's. Lloyd had dated Shaneah Jenkins, the sister of Shayanna, a dynamic that has seen the two sisters sitting on opposite sides of the courtroom during the former Patriot tight end's trial.
Shayanna Jenkins and Hernandez had reportedly dated on and off since attending high school together in Bristol, Connecticut, and the two have a two-year-old daughter together and had been living together in Hernandez's North Attleboro, Massachusetts, home since he signed a $40 million extension with the Patriots just one year before the Lloyd murder, and just one month before a double murder in Boston for which Hernandez is also being held and faces trial.
As for the upside that Shayanna Jenkins can provide the prosecution, she could have an idea as to the whereabouts of the murder weapon since it is believed she may have disposed of it hours after Lloyd was killed. Jenkins would also be able to speak to Hernandez's state of mind shortly after the murder was committed as he went immediately home from the industrial park where Lloyd's body was found and was seen in surveillance footage pacing the house like a caged lion with what was believed to be the murder weapon in his hand.
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One thing to keep in mind as the likelihood of Jenkins's testifying comes into focus is her personal safety, as a handful of Hernandez associates or relatives have met their demises in the months after he was incarcerated.
Thaddeus Singleton, an ex-husband of Hernandez's cousin Tanya Singleton, was killed in a one-car crash just weeks after Hernandez's arrest. Hernandez's uncle, Robert Valentine, was killed in a moped accident a month later, and then in December 2013, 27-year-old Tabitha Perry was found unconscious and eventually died. Perry was in the car with Singleton the night he was killed.
It remains to be seen if Jenkins definitely testifies. She could refuse and deal with whatever contempt of court charges may bring, but for now it appears that the Aaron Hernandez trial is headed toward its first explosive moment, and the road to a conviction is possibly being paved.