FALL RIVER (CBS) – Witnesses gave a nod and a smile to Aaron Hernandez as they took the stand in his murder trial Friday, and Hernandez smiled in return.
It was clear the familiar hometown faces put Hernandez at ease, and gave jurors a window into the colorful characters of Bristol Connecticut.
“I call him Crash,” said David Gorneault.
He was talking about the former Patriots player’s alleged accomplice, Ernest Wallace.
“Is that because he was regularly crashing cars and motorcycles,” asked defense attorney Charles Rankin, to which Gorneault answered “You got that right.”
Gorneault said Wallace stopped by his Bristol home days after the murder of Hernandez’s friend, Odin Lloyd.
“He was very quiet, didn’t talk much,” Gorneault recalls. Wallace was driving a silver Chrysler, Hernandez’s rental, which prosecutors call a getaway car.
Gorneault’s wife, Elizabeth, was also there. On Friday she testified Wallace “wasn’t his usual self.”
Wallace drove the same car to Irene Singleton’s Bristol home, along with the other alleged accomplice, Carlos Ortiz.
Singleton had her grandson “ask them to leave,” Singleton explained, saying she did so “because they were nervous and acting strangely.”
It was her daughter who agreed to give Wallace a lift out-of-state. Hernandez’s cousin, Tanya Singleton, went along for the ride.
“Do you recall the routes that you were taking as you were travelling south,” asked McCauley.
“The number 81 stuck out because they had mentioned 81 was in reference to Aaron’s number,” said Euna Ritchon on the stand.
Wallace and Ortiz also face murder charges, and are set to be tried separately.
Under Massachusetts’ joint venture law, prosecutors do not have to prove Hernandez pulled the trigger.
They do have to prove he participated, and had intent to murder Lloyd, beyond a reasonable doubt.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports