A perjury charge against Shayanna Jenkins was dropped Friday, one month to the day after her fiancé, former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
A motion to dismiss the charge was filed by the Bristol County, Massachusetts District Attorney’s office Thursday afternoon, and the request was granted by Judge Garsh on Friday morning.
The hearing was held in the Justice Center courtroom next to the one in which Hernandez was convicted.
After the brief session, Jenkins and her attorney, Janice Bassil, spoke with media outside the courtroom.
Bassil claimed the charge never should have been brought against her client, and said the DA's office "made threats to her family," claiming that she would be charged even with immunity. She suggested the charge was brought as a tool to compel Jenkins to testify in Hernandez's trial.
Jenkins said the dropped charge has her "feeling great," and that's she's looking forward to moving on with her future with her daughter. When asked if she is still with Hernandez, she laughed and said, "Ehhhhh." The enormous engagement ring given to her by the former NFL star still shone brightly from her ring finger.
DA spokesperson Gregg Miliote said that his office will not comment on Bassil's claims about their intention. He explained that Jenkins' testimony in the trial was "more truthful" than the one given in the grand jury hearing, and that "relevant facts" from her testimony helped the prosecution get their conviction. As a result, the DA's office no longer felt they could pursue the perjury charge "in good faith."
Prosecutors claimed Jenkins lied 29 times during her 2013 testimony to a grand jury that Hernandez killed semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. The maximum sentence for a perjury conviction in a capital case in Massachusetts is 20 years.
Jenkins was accused of lying about what she did with a large box she removed from the home she shared with Hernandez the day after he was arrested for Lloyd’s murder. Prosecutors have long claimed Hernandez instructed Jenkins to remove a weapon from their home, and that the box she disposed of contained the .45 Glock used to murder Lloyd. During her grand jury testimony she also said she had not spoken with Ernest Wallace, one of Hernandez’s co-defendants, on the day of the murder.
Jenkins, who has a 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter with Hernandez, pled not guilty to the perjury charge.
In February, Jenkins was granted immunity to testify in Hernandez’s murder trial. The details of the deal are not known, but Friday’s dropped charge indicates that Jenkins sufficiently fulfilled the prosecution’s demands.
In her two-day testimony during Hernandez’s trial, Jenkins admitted she not only spoke with Ernest Wallace while Hernandez was questioned by police hours after Lloyd’s murder, but that she drove 45 minutes from North Attleboro, Massachusetts, to East Greenwich, Rhode Island, late at night with her daughter and gave him $500 she withdrew from an ATM.
Jenkins also testified extensively about the large, 35- to 40-pound box she removed from their home, but maintained that she never looked to see what was inside. She said she disposed of it in a “random dumpster” in a “residential area.” She presented her relationship with Hernandez as a “don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangement in which she allowed and did not question behavior that included infidelity and the storing of a gun in a “junk drawer.”
During a news conference shortly after Hernandez’s conviction, the jury declined to comment, but laughed, when asked if they found Jenkins’ lapsed memory believable.
In Thursday’s filing, prosecutors said they were seeking a dismissal of the charge because Jenkins’ “testimony at the trial concerned transactions and matters that are the subject of this indictment."
The resolution of her perjury charge leaves Jenkins without any outstanding criminal charges.
Lindsey Adler is a sports reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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