By Rick Hall and Susan Candiotti
NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Massachusetts (CNN) — Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was charged with first-degree murder on Wednesday.
Hernandez is accused in last week’s shooting death of Odin Lloyd, whose body was found less than a mile from Hernandez’s home.
Hernandez “drove the victim to the remote spot, and then he orchestrated his execution,” a prosecutor said in a Massachusetts courtroom Wednesday.
“He orchestrated the crime from the beginning and took steps to conceal and destroy evidence,” the prosecutor said.
The former NFL player’s attorney argued that the evidence was circumstantial.
For the past several days, investigators have been searching the area near Hernandez’s home as they have investigated Lloyd’s death.
The Patriots released Hernandez Wednesday after he was arrested and booked at a police station in North Attleborough.
“Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation,” the team said in a statement.
The NFL released its own statement, calling the involvement of a player in the case “deeply troubling.”
Both the NFL and Patriots expressed sympathy for the victim’s family.
Hernandez’s lawyer broke his silence Monday, saying his client has been subjected to “a relentless flood of rumors, misinformation and false reports,” including unsubstantiated accounts in some media outlets late last week that an arrest warrant had been issued in connection with the investigation.
On Wednesday, about a half-dozen plainclothes police officers went to Hernandez’s house and then led him out in handcuffs. He was wearing a white T-shirt and shorts.
Authorities had been tight-lipped since 27-year-old Odin Lloyd’s body was found last week.
Lloyd’s sister, Olivia Thibou, said she was glad to hear about Hernandez’s arrest.
“God is great,” she said. “It’s the best news I’ve had since my brother was killed last week.”
On Tuesday, a notice posted at the courthouse said all records relating to the investigation have been “impounded by order of the court.”
The move seals all records related to the case, including search warrants.
Lloyd died of a gunshots wound, the prosecutor said Wednesday.
Thibou told CNN last week that Lloyd and Hernandez were friends who were at a Boston nightclub together a few days before Lloyd’s death. She said her brother was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. She did not know when or how her brother and Hernandez met.
Thibou said she did not know of any problems between Hernandez and Lloyd, who worked for a landscaping company. She said she couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to kill her brother, whom she described as a friendly guy who was like a father to her 7-year-old daughter.
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