Aaron Hernandez's fiancee, who pleaded not guilty Tuesday to perjury in connection with an alleged murder coverup, had a "don't ask, don't tell" relationship with the NFL star, her lawyer said in court.
Shayanna Jenkins, 24, is accused of lying to a grand jury about conversations she had with the former New England Patriot, who is charged with the June 17 shooting death of semipro player Odin Lloyd.
Prosecutors say Jenkins also came down with a case of selective amnesia, telling grand jurors she didn't remember where she disposed of a box — purportedly a gun safe or lock box — that Hernandez had her remove from their home after the slaying.
Jenkins' lawyer, Janice Bassil, portrayed her client as a stressed-out single mom besieged by authorities and the media who either really didn't remember the details she was grilled about, or just didn't have them.
“Their relationship in many ways had elements of what I would call 'Don’t ask, don’t tell,'" Bassil said of Jenkins and Hernandez, who have a 1-year-old daughter together.
The lawyer said it was not uncommon for women involved with celebrities of athletes to decide they were not going to spend their time tracking their partner's every move and just accept that they could do what they wanted on their own time.
Bassil argued that Jenkins should be released on her own recognizance, and the judge agreed, rejecting Bristol County prosecutor Patrick Bomberg's request that bail be set at $5,000.
Pool via AP file
Former New England Patriots NFL football player Aaron Hernandez and Shayanna Jenkins
Outlining the charges against Jenkins, the prosecutor said Jenkins was caught on video removing a box from the basement, putting it in a black plastic bag, covering it with baby clothes and putting it in her sister's car.
She admitted she tossed it in a Dumpster, but even though she was given immunity, she told the grand jury she could not remember which one — a lie, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors also alleged that she lied about not talking with Hernandez about another shooting incident that had resulted in a lawsuit and fabricated a story for police that Lloyd — her sister's boyfriend — was a drug dealer. She also had housekeepers sign non-disclosure agreements to prevent them from disclosing evidence, Bomberg said.
As Jenkins stood silently in the courtroom, her lawyer suggested prosecutors had tried to bully her, alleging that she was kept waiting for three hours before her grand jury appearance as a "pressure ploy."
The grilling before the panel was "extremely aggressive," Bassil charged. "At one point she broke down and said... 'What do you want me to say?'"
Bassil also said she plans to file a motion to have the charges tossed, calling the indictment "overreaching."
Jenkins is one of several people linked to Hernandez, 23, who have been arrested or charged since he was accused of killing Lloyd, 27, because he was upset he was seen talking to the wrong people.
The athlete's cousin has pleaded not guilty to a conspiracy charge. Ernest Wallace, who was allegedly with Hernandez the night of the killing, was charged with accessory to murder after the fact. Carlos Ortiz, who is also accused of being with Hernandez but has been cooperating, is being held on a gun charge.
First published October 15 2013, 12:21 PM