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December 20, 2014

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Ex-Patriot Hernandez seeks jail transfer

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AP Photo/Dominick Reuter

Former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez is led into the courtroom to be arraigned on homicide charges at Suffolk Superior Court in Boston, May 28, 2104.

BOSTON — Former New England Patriot star Aaron Hernandez should be moved to a jail closer to Boston because communication with his attorneys and his personal safety are being compromised, Hernandez's lawyers said in a transfer request Friday.

Boston-based attorneys Michael Fee and James Sultan said Hernandez needs to be closer to them as he faces three murder charges in two different venues: Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River and Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston.

Fee and Sultan also complained their client has dealt with "bizarre and unprecedented" restrictions in his communications with his lawyers. Hernandez cannot always speak privately over the phone and in-person visits are limited to a specially-designated visitation room at the prison, they said.

They also accused the jail administrator, Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson, of violating Hernandez's due process rights and privacy rights.

The lawyers said Hodgson has colluded with Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter in the prosecution of the case, "abandoned" his duty to safely detain Hernandez while he awaits trial, and used Hernandez for "self-promotion and virtually nonstop publicity."

The lawyers also suggested Hernandez's safety is at risk now that he faces criminal charges for allegedly threatening to kill a prison guard and his family, and in an alleged jail altercation with another inmate. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty.

Hodgson said the comments from Hernandez's lawyers were "outrageous." He said Hernandez has had no issues with staff since allegedly making the threats to the correctional officer back in November.

"He's not being treated any different than any person in that place," Hodgson said. "I'm very comfortable with our practices. We are nationally accredited."

Hodgson rejected the claim that Hernandez's calls and face-to-face meetings with his lawyers are being monitored and said the notion that he is colluding with prosecutors or using Hernandez's notoriety for his own personal gain are also without merit. He said Hernandez's lawyers have already raised these complaints with his office about a month ago and that his office responded in writing.

A spokeswoman for Sutter said prosecutors will file a response in court at a later date.

Hernandez was in court in Fall River earlier this week as his lawyers sought to limit evidence against him in the slaying of former semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd in an industrial park near Hernandez's North Attleborough home. Defense attorneys also sought to have the murder charges dismissed outright.

The judge has yet to rule on those motions, but she has set a tentative trial date of Oct. 6.

Hernandez is set to appear in court in Boston next week in the 2012 drive-by shooting that killed Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to all three killings.

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