Updated: June 26, 2013 10:02PM
ATTLEBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder in the shooting death of a friend prosecutors say had angered the NFL player at a nightclub a few days earlier by talking to the wrong people.
Hernandez, 23, was taken from his North Attleborough home in handcuffs just over a week after Boston semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd’s bullet-riddled body was found a mile away.
Less than two hours after the arrest, the Patriots announced they had cut Hernandez, a 2011 Pro Bowl selection who signed a five-year contract last summer worth $40 million.
Lloyd was a 27-year-old athlete with the Boston Bandits who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. He was shot repeatedly in the back and chest on a secluded gravel road, authorities said.
Hernandez “drove the victim to that remote spot, and then he orchestrated his execution,” prosecutor Bill McCauley said.
If convicted, Hernandez could get life in prison without parole.
“It is at bottom a circumstantial case. It is not a strong case,” his attorney, Michael Fee, said at a court hearing during which Hernandez was ordered held without bail on murder charges and five weapons counts.
McCauley said the slaying stemmed from a night out at a Boston club called Rumor on June 14.
Two days later, McCauley said, on the night of June 16, Hernandez texted two friends from out of state and asked them to hurry back to Massachusetts.
Surveillance footage from Hernandez’s home showed him leaving with a gun, the prosecutor said.
The three men picked up Lloyd at his home around 2:30 a.m., according to authorities. As they drove around in their rented car, they discussed what happened at the nightclub, McCauley said.
Lloyd texted his sister, “Did you see who I am with?” When she asked who, he answered, at 3:22 a.m., “NFL,” then, a minute later, he sent one final text: “Just so you know.”
Within a few minutes, people working the overnight shift at the industrial park reported hearing gunshots.