(Reuters) – Ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez’s fiancée took the stand in his murder trial in Massachusetts on Friday as a key witness who was granted immunity after charges she initially lied to a grand jury investigating the case.
Shayanna Jenkins, 25, has attended the trial intermittently since it began in late January, and it had remained unclear whether she would provide evidence against Hernandez, with whom she has a two-year-old daughter.
Hernandez, also 25, is on trial for fatally shooting semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd, who had been dating Jenkins’ sister, Shaneah. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Prosecutors contend Hernandez and two friends, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, picked up Lloyd at his Boston home in the early hours of June 17, 2013, and drove him to an industrial park near Hernandez’s house in North Attleborough, Massachusetts, where he was later found dead.
Lloyd, 27, was shot five times with a .45 caliber Glock handgun, investigators have said. The murder weapon has not been found.
On Friday, Jenkins testified that she had found a black gun in the house where she had moved with Hernandez and their daughter in late 2012.
“I found it in my junk drawer,” she told Assistant District Attorney William McCauley. “I don’t really remember the size.”
Prosecutors earlier accused Jenkins of lying to a grand jury 29 times as it probed Lloyd’s murder. She pleaded not guilty to charges she falsely told the panel she did not know where she had disposed of a box Hernandez asked her to get rid of after the killing, among other things.
During the trial at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, prosecutors have shown video surveillance footage of Jenkins carrying a black trash bag out of the couple’s North Attleborough house and putting it in the trunk of her sister’s car.
Judge Susan Garsh approved a prosecutors’ request to grant Jenkins immunity in February. It was not clear what Jenkins agreed to in exchange.
Hernandez had a $41 million contract with the New England Patriots when he was dropped from the team shortly after being arrested for Lloyd’s murder.
His suspected accomplices, Wallace and Ortiz, have also been charged with murder and will be tried separately. All three men have pleaded not guilty.