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Ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez indicted for murder

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( — A Bristol County, Massachusetts, grand jury indicted former NFL player Aaron Hernandez on a first-degree murder charge Thursday.

Hernandez, a former New England Patriots tight end, is charged in connection with the slaying of Odin Lloyd, the 27-year-old boyfriend of the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee.

Prosecutors say Hernandez, 23, orchestrated Lloyd’s shooting death. Hernandez and two other men allegedly picked Lloyd up on the morning of June 17, and his body was found later that day in an industrial park near Hernandez’s home.

Hernandez appeared in court Thursday afternoon to hear the court announce the indictment. He was handcuffed and wearing a white T-shirt under a suit jacket.

As he sat down, he mouthed “I love you” to someone sitting in the gallery. Hernandez showed no emotion during the brief hearing.

The football star has been in police custody since he was arrested on June 26.

Along with the murder indictment, he was also indicted on five weapons charges. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The indictment takes the place of a hearing to establish “probable cause” that was originally scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Upon reviewing the case, a grand jury determined that prosecutors had enough evidence to constitute probable cause, or that the charges are reasonable based on the facts presented. The case against Hernandez can now proceed to trial.

The judge scheduled a hearing for next Friday to deal with two outstanding defense motions.

The next step in Hernandez’s case is his arraignment, during which he’ll be informed of the crimes he is charged with. He will also have the opportunity to enter a formal plea with the court. No date has been set for Hernandez’s arraignment.

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