Former NFL star and alleged murderer Aaron Hernandez took the stand today for the first time in his case, insisting to the court that he is not mentally ill.
A judge grilled Hernandez, asking the 23-year-old ex-New England Patriot a number of questions regarding his overall health and mental state.
Hernandez insisted he is totally fine in the brain.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Odin Lloyd, 27. If convicted, he faces life in prison, and said today that he grasps the gravity of the situation.
At the hearing, the judge asked the fallen football star to take the stand to question him about a potential conflict of interest involving one of his attorneys.
Aaron Hernandez's lawyer Michael Fee is a partner at Ropes and Gray in Boston, Mass., as is Assistant District Attorney Patrick Bomberg’s wife.
Fee insists that his association with the prosecutor’s wife will not affect his ability to help represent Hernandez in what could be a sensational trial.
After a series of “yes” and “no” answers to questions from the judge, Hernandez agreed to keep Fee despite the potential for a conflict of interest.
At one point, the judge asked Hernandez about his profession. “I played football,” he said. Earlier in the hearing, a gag order in the case was discussed.
Hernandez’s attorney said a “torrent” of information has been “leaked” to the media. He also submitted news articles citing law enforcement sources.
The judge asked prosecutors if they had made any effort to investigate where the leaks had come from; prosecutors said many of the reports are wrong.
The judge told both sides that rules of professional conduct are sufficient and that there would be no gag order for now. That matter may be revisted.
At one point, Hernandez requested to have his handcuffs removed. The request was granted. He also wore a suit and tie to court for the first time.