FALL RIVER (CBS) — Jennifer Mercado is the only relative of Aaron Hernandez to testify in his trial so far, telling the jury what he told her after his arrest in the murder of Odin LLoyd.

“He said that he was innocent, that he didn’t do it, and that God will see us through,” she said.

She cried when she talked about her sister, Tanya Singleton, a mother of two who went to jail protecting Hernandez, even as she endured terminal cancer. She was held in contempt of court for refusing to testify before a grand jury. Hernandez took in the emotion as she talked about how the incarceration afftected Singleton’s illness.

“It got worse while she was in jail,” said Mercado.

Judge Susan Garsh granted Mercado immunity from prosecution, but that didn’t help clear her memory on certain issues.

“I don’t remember,” said Mercado, over and over again. “It was a long time ago.”

She remembered other things with clarity, prompting prosecutor William McCauley to ask, “What accounts for your better memory on this question, and your lack of memory on other questions?”

She never answered that question, because the judge sustained a defense attorney’s objection to it.

She was crystal clear remembering the time she said alleged accomplice Ernest Wallace, who lived in her home off and on, was high on PCP.

“One time he came into the house and he was screaming at the top of his lungs, and calling us names, and acting erratic.”

It plays into one of her cousin’s defense strategies, defelecting blame to his two friends who are co-defendants, Wallace and Carlos Ortiz.

Also Tuesday, prosecutors filed an appeal with the State Supreme Court to reverse Judge Garsh’s order to keep out testimony from Hernandez’s friend, Robert Paradis.

He has said Hernandez bragged to him about owning a .45 caliber gun before the murder. A single justice already rejected the appeal once. This time, prosecutors are appealing to the full SJC.

Christina Hager

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