He pleaded not guilty to six charges, including one count of first degree murder and five weapons counts in the execution-style death of 27-year-old semipro football player Odin Lloyd, and has been ordered held without bail.
The Patriots did not wait for the charges to be made public (we'll presume the team had an inkling) - they announced at 10:20am ET that they have released (waived, really) Hernandez.
According to Ian Rapoport, the Pats had decided as early as last week that if Hernandez were to be arrested, they would cut ties with the Florida alum.
It had been reported for several days that the 23-year-old Hernandez would be arrested and charged with obstruction of justice in the Odin Lloyd murder case, but the mechanics of the arrest and the team's action suggested more serious charges.
Indeed, prosecutors have filed a most serious set of charges against Hernandez, on the basis of a surprising amount of physical evidence, including shell casings, text messages, and video surveillance clips, but without having found the murder weapon.
The weapons charges include unlawful possession of a firearm, and possession of a large capacity firearm.
According to the prosecution, they have video evidence of Hernandez holding a firearm prior to and following the crime, and they cite as the motive a prior dispute between Hernandez and Lloyd at a nightclub. In the words of the prosecutor, Hernandez is alleged to have "orchestrated the execution" of Lloyd.
While arguing for Hernandez to be given bail, defense attorney Michael Fee characterized the state's evidence as being circumstantial in nature.
Here's the team's statement regarding the release of Hernandez:
A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss. Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation. We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.
It's been speculated that the team can recoup most of the $12.5M in guarantees it paid Hernandez last season as part of his $40M contract extension, Adam Schefter reports that by releasing the player now, the Pats have waived any right to do so.
- Here is the prosecution's timeline of events leading up to and following the murder of Odin Lloyd
- Video footage of Hernandez's arrest (via SportsGrid)
- AP timeline of events
- Dan Wetzel saw little emotion in court today out of a young man he says has no checkered upbringing to blame for his troubles
- Les Carpenter expects the league to suspend Hernandez
- Jason Fitzgerald discusses the potential cap implications
- Bill Barnwell suggests the Pats could end up relying more heavily upon their running game in 2013
- PFF reacts
- Via KSK, a rap about Hernandez in the style of poet laureate Rick Reilly
- The NFL has already stopped selling Hernandez jerseys on its website
- In the heart of Zombie country, they're already thinking about how great the Hernandez news is for their boy Teebs
- And of course, the "news" network favored by 10 out of 10 Zombies is thinking the very same thing
- PFR profile
Updated 7:53pm ET