Hernandez's double murder trial set for 2015


Hernandez's double murder trial set for 2015

BOSTON -- A judge on Tuesday scheduled a tentative May trial date for former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez in the 2012 drive-by shootings of two men, and his lawyers asked a judge to issue a gag order because of intense media coverage of the murder case.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to killing Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado after a random nightclub encounter in Boston.

During a hearing in Suffolk Superior Court, Hernandez's lawyers asked Judge Jeffrey Locke to issue a gag order prohibiting anyone involved in the case from commenting outside court.

Attorney James Sultan said the defense is concerned that Hernandez can't get a fair trial because of extensive media coverage of his indictment in the double slayings and another murder case against Hernandez in the 2013 death of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd. Lloyd's body was found in an industrial park near Hernandez's North Attleborough home.

"I think it's incumbent upon all of us ... to do whatever we can to safeguard Mr. Hernandez's constitutional right to a fair trial and a jury that has not been poisoned by unfairly prejudicial pretrial publicity," Sultan said. He argued that a judge in Bristol County, where Hernandez is charged with killing Lloyd, issued a gag order in that case.

Prosecutors opposed the request. Assistant District Attorney Patrick Haggan called a gag order "unreasonable" and "unwarranted," and said it not the usual practice in Suffolk County.

Haggan said Hernandez's lawyers were suggesting that "because of his celebrity and his public figure status that Mr. Hernandez should not be held to the rules of this court."

Haggan said prosecutors involved in the Hernandez case had not made any improper statements outside court. Sultan disagreed, saying District Attorney Dan Conley had "held a press conference" after the indictments against Hernandez were issued and again after he was arraigned.

The judge took the request under advisement and did not indicate when he would rule.

Family members and friends of the two men filled the front two rows of the courtroom. Several relatives wept as Hernandez was brought into the room. Two women left the courtroom as Hernandez talked and laughed with one of his lawyers just before the hearing began.

Locke made it clear that the May 28 trial date is only tentative. He acknowledged that the date could change because Hernandez's trial in Lloyd's killing is scheduled for October.

Hernandez's lawyers told the judge they don't plan to file any motions in the 2012 double slaying case until after the trial in the Lloyd case is over.

But Locke warned them, "Don't consider this case suspended until October."

Hernandez is due back in court on Aug. 14.

Eagles Injury Update: Bennie Logan misses practice again

Eagles Injury Update: Bennie Logan misses practice again

For the second straight day this week, the Eagles practiced without starting defensive tackle Bennie Logan. 

Logan, who has been dealing with a groin strain he suffered against Washington, hasn't practiced since that game and didn't play against the Vikings. 

With just one more day left to practice this week before the game in Dallas on Sunday night, it seems increasingly likely that Beau Allen will get his second straight start in Logan's place. 

In addition to Logan, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (hamstring) also missed practice for the second straight day on Thurday. He and Logan are considered to be "week to week." 

After being limited on Wednesday, Mychal Kendricks (ribs) and Jordan Matthews (knee) were both full participants in Thursday's practice. So was Jason Peters (bicep). 

The only limited participant on Thursday was defensive tackle Taylor Hart (ankle), whom the Eagles just re-claimed this week from San Francisco. 

Matthews: Wentz-Prescott 'could potentially be like a Brady-Peyton rivalry'

Matthews: Wentz-Prescott 'could potentially be like a Brady-Peyton rivalry'

Carson Wentz shrugged it off: “I don’t put too much stock in that stuff.”

Dak Prescott shrugged it off. “I guess. Yeah. I don’t know.”

The reality is that what's going to happen Sunday has never happened before.

Wentz and Prescott on Sunday night will become the first rookie quarterbacks who’ve already won four games to face each other this early in a season.

Wentz is 4-2, Prescott is 5-1. They’re both 23, they both started the preseason as third-stringers, and they play in the same division.

If this doesn’t have the makings of a classic rivalry, then nothing does.

Even if neither wants to talk about it.

Prescott: “It could potentially be there. It could create something that could go over time. I’ve never gotten into comparing myself to anybody. Not another rookie. Not a great quarterback that comes along. I’m not really into comparing.”

Wentz: “It’s exciting and it’s cool to see him doing well. I don’t put too much stock in that stuff but obviously he’s a divisional rival so that very well could happen for a long time.”

But let’s be honest. This is as intriguing a matchup as you’ll see between rookie quarterbacks.

Both off to historic starts, both playing in the same division.

“I think it’s cool,” Jordan Matthews said. “Obviously, Peyton (Manning) and (Tom) Brady, that’s an extremely high honor to be mentioned with those guys but I mean obviously I speak highly of Carson, I know he can be named with those guys, all he needs is more years of playing. And I also have a high respect for Dak too.

“One thing I knew about Dak is that he was going to be able to transition to the league because he had played multiple years being the guy. You have so many guys come from college, they have one good year and then they leave, so they don’t actually know what it’s like to have a full offseason where people prepare for you 24-7 and then you still come out there and put up numbers. So he has a good mindset.

“You’re talking about a guy who’s a poised quarterback, he knows what it means to be a leader, he knows what it means to be gameplanned for.

“And I feel like Carson’s the same way. The thing I love about Carson is that same ability but he also has a chip on his shoulder. So you’re talking about two guys that could potentially be like a Brady-Peyton rivalry. The only difference is that you’re going to get this two times a year and possibly playoffs. It’s a fun thing to be a part of, but I’m glad we’ve got 11.”

Prescott’s 103.9 passer rating is highest in NFL history by a rookie going into Week 8, and Wentz’s 92.7 rating is eighth-highest ever.

Prescott and Wentz both began training camp as their team’s No. 3 quarterbacks, Prescott behind Tony Romo and Kellen Moore and Wentz behind Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel.

But injuries to Romo and Moore and Bradford’s trade to the Vikings left Prescott and Wentz leading their teams into the season.

Prescott’s five wins are the most in NFL history by a rookie in his first six games. Wentz is among six rookies who won four of his first six starts, along with familiar names Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson, plus George Shaw of the Colts in 1955.

Wentz stands 6-foot-5, 235 pounds to Prescott’s 6-2, 225. Wentz was the second overall pick out of North Dakota State; Prescott was a fourth-round pick from Mississippi State.

“I actually think they’re kind of similar,” Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll said. “I think they’re similar as far as their build and their intelligence, as far as between Carson and Dak having a good feel for what the offense is trying to do.

“They’re really trying not to make any mistakes. They have a good feel for what is going on. They know what they have to do. They know how to move the ball. They’re just trying to move the ball efficiently. And I think those are two similar guys. Just because they got drafted at two different spots doesn’t make them very different.”

Prescott and Wentz were on opposite teams at the Senior Bowl but got to know each other a little bit at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February.

Prescott on Wentz: “Smart guy, great player, great athlete. He’s doing exactly what I thought he’d do. I figured he’d be a good player in this league, and he’s been doing well.”

Wentz on Prescott: “Throughout the process I got to know him a little bit, got to talk to him, great guy, great dude, and it’s exciting to see he’s been having some success as well.”

The last Eagles rookie quarterback to beat the Cowboys was Jack Concannon in 1964.

No Cowboys rookie QB has ever beaten the Eagles (not counting Kevin Sweeney in a 1987 strike replacement game).

Not that long ago, it would have been unthinkable for rookies like Wentz and Prescott to be having this sort of success.

But the game has changed. According to the Pro-Football Reference database, 11 of the 12 rookies who’ve won at least eight games since 1950 have done so since 2004, Roethlisberger’s rookie year.

Matthews was asked what qualities a rookie quarterback needs to have success.

“I think No. 1, you’ve definitely got to be fearless,” he said. “You’ve got to be fearless. That’s the biggest thing because they put you out there, but if your mindset is, ‘Oh, I need a couple years to get this going,’ then you’re definitely not going to be able to come in and do what you need to do.

“But the thing about the NFL that I don’t think people give enough credit to is you have to have a good opportunity. Your opportunities and then the situations that you’re put in are usually going to determine how (successful) you are lots of time as an NFL athlete.

“My wide receiver class, we all came in and everybody said this class justified everything that we ever thought about wide receivers, but at the end of the day too, before this, receivers got drafted and they went to teams that had an older guy and they just kind of eased in. Most of us came in and we were automatically the No. 1 receiver.

“When you’re given a lot, there’s a lot required of you too, you know? And just having that situation, opportunities, you’re going to actually do better. 

“So you talk about guys like Dak and Carson, not only are these guys fearless, they’re great players, but also I feel like they’re also both in great situations too and they have great opportunities (and) have coaches that believe in them.”