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Judge To Consider Gag Order In Aaron Hernandez Murder Case

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Aaron Hernandez in Fall River Superior Court, June 27, 2013. (Photo: WBZ-TV/CBSBoston.com)

Aaron Hernandez in Fall River Superior Court, June 27, 2013. (Photo: WBZ-TV/CBSBoston.com)

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FALL RIVER, Mass. (CBSMiami/AP) — A gag order may be issued in the murder case involving New England tight end Aaron Hernandez.

At a hearing Monday in Fall River Superior Court, Hernandez’s defense attorney Michael Fee accused prosecutors of allowing leaks which could jeopardized his client’s chances of getting a fair trial. Fee also blamed prosecutors for out-of-court statements reported in the media that he says have tarnished the ex-player.

“Mr. Hernandez is entitled to a fair trial,” Fee told Judge Susan Garsh during the hourlong proceeding. “He is entitled to a jury panel that has not been poisoned by either false or sensational statements.”

The judge did not immediately rule on the defense’s request for a formal gag order.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder in the June shooting death of Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-professional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s girlfriend. Prosecutors allege Hernandez killed Lloyd because he was upset with him for talking to some people at a nightclub with whom Hernandez had problems.

In a November filing, Hernandez’s attorneys said the state had “flouted” the rules of professional conduct and disregarded the judge’s admonition against prejudicial out-of-court commentary.

The defense said the prosecution orchestrated a “publicity stunt” in October, when authorities served Miami Dolphin Michael Pouncey with a subpoena related to the case after playing the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Pouncey played football with Hernandez at the University of Florida. The defense said serving the subpoena in that way and statements to the media attributed to law enforcement sources whipped up more publicity about the case.

The prosecution has not commented publicly on the subpoena.

In court Monday, Assistant District Attorney William McCauley denied the allegations, saying no leaks have come from the district attorney’s office or the investigative team.

“We are playing fair,” he said. “We’ve agreed to the rules of professional conduct, and we’re abiding by them.”

McCauley accused the defense of misconduct by calling into question the state’s integrity, without evidence of who was responsible for any leaks.

Despite sparring in court, the two sides agreed in principle on the issuance of a gag order. The judge asked both to submit specific proposals for a formal order, both due in January.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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