BOSTON (CBS/AP) – Days before the murder trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez is set to get underway, a new top prosecutor has been appointed to oversee it because the Bristol district attorney became the mayor of Fall River.

Outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick on Friday appointed Thomas M. Quinn III, a top assistant for outgoing DA Sam Sutter, as acting district attorney. In making the appointment, Patrick praised Quinn’s 16 years of experience in the office.

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“I am making this appointment now to assure the stability of the critical work of the office and fully respect the authority of the incoming governor to make his own appointment in due course,” Patrick said in a written statement.

Quinn steps into the role a week before jury selection is scheduled to start in Hernandez’s first murder trial. He’s charged with killing semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd in 2013.

Odin Lloyd. (Family photo)

Odin Lloyd. (Family photo)

Hernandez is also charged with killing two men in Boston in 2012 after a chance encounter at a nightclub, but that case has not yet gone to trial.

Sutter has said he is confident with the prosecution team assigned to the Hernandez case, and recommended Quinn be appointed to replace him. He said on Friday the choice would be met with jubilation by the 130 people working at the district attorney’s office. Nearly 100 employees in the office signed a letter last week to Patrick urging Quinn’s appointment.

“It is very important for the office on the eve of one of the most highly publicized trials in the country,” Sutter said in a statement.

(Image Credit: Sam Sutter for Mayor of Fall River Facebook page)

(Image Credit: Sam Sutter for Mayor of Fall River Facebook page)

Sutter was re-elected in November, but ran for mayor in a recall election last month and won. He was sworn in as mayor on Tuesday and officially resigned and declined his nomination for a third term as district attorney on Friday.

Quinn’s term will last until an election in 2016, unless incoming Republican Gov. Charlie Baker chooses to rescind the appointment by Patrick, a Democrat.

Baker is allowed to rescind any appointment made by Patrick in his final days in office. Tim Buckley, a spokesman for Baker, did not say whether he would consider appointing someone new.

“The governor-elect is pleased to see that the important work of the district attorney’s office will continue uninterrupted, and will make his decision regarding the next district attorney after assuming office,” he said.

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Quinn graduated from the College of the Holy Cross and Suffolk University Law School and began his career as an assistant district attorney in the same office he will now lead. From 1997 to 2007, he was in private practice and helped represent indigent clients, according to the governor’s office. He then returned to the office and became Sutter’s first assistant.

Quinn, who lives in Fall River, said he was grateful to Patrick for the appointment and humbled by the opportunity to serve the people of Bristol County.

Hernandez’s Lawyers Ask Judge To Allow Family In Court

Hernandez lawyers asked the judge to let his mother and fiancee attend his murder trial, even though they are listed as possible witnesses and normally would be barred from attending.

Hernandez’s lawyers say in court filings released Friday that it is “reasonable, appropriate and humane” that his closest family members be permitted to attend.

Shayanna Jenkins in Fall River Superior Court, Nov. 6, 2013. (WBZ-TV)

Shayanna Jenkins in Fall River Superior Court, Nov. 6, 2013. (WBZ-TV)

Prosecutors have said they may call his mother, Terri Hernandez, or fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins.

Hernandez’s lawyers say both women testified before a grand jury in the case and there’s no reason to think their trial testimony would be influenced by the testimony of other witnesses.

Jury selection is due to start Jan. 9.

Jenkins has been charged with perjury in the case and has pleaded not guilty.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 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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