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A valet manager at a Boston hotel testified Tuesday at Aaron Hernandez's murder trial that the then-New England Patriots star tight end had what he believed to be a gun stuffed in his waistband two nights before the killing.
Samson Michael testified that he was an account manager for the valet service at the W Hotel in Boston in June 2013. He said he saw Hernandez outside the hotel at around 1:30 am. on June 15, two days before Odin Lloyd was shot to death at an industrial park near Hernandez's home. Lloyd had been dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee.
Lloyd was with Hernandez and another man that night, according to testimony Monday by a woman who baby-sat for Hernandez's daughter and ran into him at the W Hotel.
In Tuesday's testimony, Michael testified that Hernandez had left a black SUV at the W's valet service and had come back to get something. Michael testified he saw Hernandez standing at the open driver's-side door. He said he is not a football fan and at the time didn't know who Hernandez was.
"I just noticed a gentleman with his shirt up to his chest and what looks to be a gun inside his waistband," Michael told jurors.
When asked to describe it by prosecutor William McCauley, Michael said it was a "black object, what looks like a gun. I could see about half of it. Mostly the handle."
He said he saw the square handle on what looked like a semiautomatic weapon for about three seconds from the sidewalk as he looked through the passenger-side window.
Michael said he reported the gun to hotel security and he and the security officer walked to the corner, where Hernandez had headed after leaving the SUV. After about five to 10 minutes, he went back to the hotel. Not long after, he said, the SUV had left.
Hernandez's lawyer Michael Fee questioned how clear his view was through the window from the sidewalk and how well he could see it for just three seconds.
He also noted that Michael had said several times that he thought it was a gun, suggesting it could be something else.
The defense has suggested previously that a black object Hernandez can be seen holding in surveillance video two nights later inside his home is a TV remote or another electronic device, while prosecutors have said it is a gun.
McCauley asked Michael whether he saw a remote control in Hernandez's waistband.
"No," Michael replied.
Also Tuesday, prosecutors showed jurors a text message he sent to his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, directing her to a box in their basement as he sat at the police station for questioning June 18.
The message refers to their infant daughter, Avielle.
"Go in back of the screen in movie room when u get home an there is the box avielle likes to play with in the tub jus in case u were lookin for it!!!! Member how u ruined that big tv lmao WAS JUST THINKIN bout that lol wink wink love u TTYL .. k."
Prosecutors have said it was a coded message and Jenkins disposed of the box after receiving it. A co-defendant told police Hernandez put guns in a box in his basement. The murder weapon hasn't been found.
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