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Thursday
Aug222013

Aaron Hernandez to Appear in Court; Indictment Expected

Michael DeHoog/Sports Imagery/Getty ImagesUPDATE: Aaron Hernandez was indicted Thursday on a charge of assault and battery with intent to murder by the grand jury. He was also indicted on weapons charges.

(BOSTON) -- Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is expected to be formally indicted for the murder of his friend, who was executed less than a mile from the NFL's player's North Attleboro, Mass., home, ABC News has learned.

Hernandez is scheduled to appear in court for a probable cause hearing Thursday afternoon.  But instead of detailing what prosecutors contend is the overwhelming evidence investigators have collected against Hernandez, Bristol County prosecutors will officially arraign the former football player.  He'll be charged with the murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, who was allegedly shot five times execution-style on June 17, several law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Prosecutors pushed to get an indictment before Thursday's hearing, sources said.  That is significant because without an indictment, Hernandez's lawyers would have likely argued for his release.

The Bristol County District Attorney's spokesman, Gregg Miliote, declined to say anything other than Hernandez would be in court on Thursday as scheduled.

Hernandez was arrested on June 26 and has been held without bail in a solitary cell at the Bristol County House of Correction.  The indictment comes after prosecutors requested, and received, a 30-day extension to outline their case to Hernandez's defense attorneys.

Thursday's expected indictment is the latest development in the ongoing investigation into Hernandez and other incidents in which the football player is suspected of being involved.  Soon after the Lloyd killing, ABC News learned Boston detectives were investigating whether Hernandez had a role in an unsolved drive-by shooting that left two men dead more than a year ago.  That investigation is ongoing, prosecutors said.

The Lloyd investigation has also led to murder charges against two men prosecutors said Hernandez, 23, was with the night Lloyd was killed: Carlos Ortiz, 27, and Ernest Wallace, 41.  Ortiz has been cooperating with investigators, according to court documents, and has fingered Hernandez as the alleged trigger-man.

Two women with ties to Hernandez have also been charged in connection with the ongoing investigation.

Tanya Singleton, Hernandez's cousin, has been locked up held at Suffolk County jail since Aug. 1 because of her refusal to cooperate with the grand jury probing proceedings centered on the July 15, 2012 drive-by shooting in Boston's South End that left two men dead and a third wounded, police and prison officials confirmed.

Hernandez is being probed for any link to that shooting after police recovered a rental car believed to be used in the crime secreted in his uncle's Bristol, Conn., garage.  Witnesses told police Hernandez was seen arguing with the victims at the Cure nightclub hours before the gunshots rang out.

A second woman has also been charged in connection with the investigation into the Boston shooting after a weapon was found in her vehicle, which was searched following a minor crash.

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