Hernandez pleads not guilty to double-murder charges

Boston: American football star Aaron Hernandez pleaded not guilty to two first degree murder charges during a court appearance on Wednesday.

Hernandez responded "not guilty" after being read the double-murder charge in connection with the alleged killing of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in a drive-by shooting in July 2012. He also pleaded not guilty to five other counts on Wednesday.

The former New England Patriots tight end Hernandez is already in a Boston jail on charges stemming from the June 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player.

Judge Gary Wilson ordered Hernandez held without bail for the new charges.

Assistant district attorney Patrick Haggan said witnesses provided investigators with evidence that Hernandez and an associate met the two victims in a chance encounter at a Boston club in the early morning hours.

He alleged the former NFL player opened fire on the men in Boston`s South End neighborhood after an altercation inside the night club. The nearly two-year investigation included testimony from more than two dozen witnesses.

The other charges against Hernandez included three counts of armed assault with intent to murder and one count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Hernandez was released by New England just hours after he was arrested for the Lloyd murder. In 2012, he signed a $40 million contract with the Patriots.

The next court date is scheduled for June 24.

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