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September 17, 2014

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Hernandez’s cousin pleads not guilty to contempt

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tanya Singleton, a cousin of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez, is escorted into Superior Court in Fall River, Mass., on Aug. 23, 2013.

FALL RIVER, Mass. — A cousin of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez pleaded not guilty Friday to a contempt charge after being accused of refusing to testify before the grand jury that indicted Hernandez in the killing of a friend.

Tanya Singleton entered her plea on a criminal contempt charge during a brief court appearance in Fall River. Her attorney, E. Peter Parker, did not seek bail for her, agreeing that she be held until a hearing on Oct. 3.

Singleton was offered immunity but refused to testify before the grand jury, District Attorney Samuel Sutter said. She has been held since Aug. 1 in a Suffolk County jail and was indicted Thursday.

The grand jury on Thursday indicted Hernandez on first-degree murder and weapons charges in the death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player from Boston who was dating the sister of Hernandez's girlfriend.

Lloyd's body was found June 17 in an industrial park in North Attleborough, about a mile from Hernandez's home. He had been shot five times.

Hernandez, 23, pleaded not guilty to murder and weapons charges in district court in June, and he is being held without bail. One of his attorneys, Michael Fee, said Thursday that there had been an "incredible rush to judgment" in the case and that he doesn't believe the state will be able to prove the charges during a jury trial.

Prosecutors say Hernandez orchestrated the killing because he was upset at Lloyd for talking to people Hernandez had problems with at a nightclub days earlier. They say two Hernandez associates, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, were with the ex-player at the time Lloyd was killed.

In Fall River on Friday, the judge held a closed hearing before Singleton's arraignment. Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for Sutter, declined to comment on the substance of the proceeding. He also would not comment on what information prosecutors had hoped to learn from Singleton in grand jury testimony.

Miliote said the punishment for a criminal contempt conviction is at the discretion of the judge.

Parker had no comment outside the courthouse on the indictment. Asked how she's doing, he said: "She's doing good."

In July, authorities seized a cellphone and credit and bank cards from Singleton, who is from Hernandez's hometown of Bristol, Conn. Court records show Ortiz told investigators he and Wallace drove to Bristol after Lloyd's killing and that he was dropped off at Singleton's house. Ortiz said he discussed Lloyd's killing with her.

Authorities say Singleton later purchased a bus ticket for Wallace to travel to Miramar, Fla., where his parents live.

Wallace was indicted Thursday on a charge of being an accessory to murder after the fact. He pleaded not guilty earlier in district court to the same charge. He was ordered held on $500,000 bail.

Ortiz has not been indicted. He pleaded not guilty in district court to a weapons charge and is being held without bail. He has a court hearing Thursday.

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