FALL RIVER — The cousin of Aaron Hernandez was sentenced to probation with home confinement today after admitting she refused to testify before a grand jury investigating the former New England Patriots star in connection with a North Attleboro murder.
Judge E. Susan Garsh sentenced Tanya Singleton, 38, to two years of probation with home confinement for the first year after the mother of two children pleaded guilty to criminal contempt.
Singleton, whose medical condition is poor because of cancer, must also wear a GPS bracelet during the entire term of probation. Among the conditions of her probation is an order to have no contact with any witnesses or defendants in the case.
In her remarks before handing down her sentence, Garsh said Singleton's “willful conduct constituted an assault on the rule of law and effective administration of criminal justice.”
Garsh made it clear that the only reason she did not send Singleton, of Bristol, Conn., to jail, was because of her deteriorating health due to cancer. The state guidelines for a defendant like Singleton, who has no prior criminal record, recommend a one year jail term, Garsh said.
Singleton was granted immunity from prosecution and refused to testify to a grand jury investigating Hernandez in July 2013. Hernandez, 24, has pleaded innocent to murder charges related to the slaying of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd of Boston in June 2013.
Lloyd was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee and his bullet-riddled body was found in the North Attleboro Industrial Park not far from Hernandez's Westwood Estates home.
Garsh turned down a request by the prosecution to allow Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, to speak at the sentencing hearing. However, Ward spoke to reporters after the hearing for the first time.
“I have one question to ask. How would you do, or what would you do, if you had information about your son's murder, or the truth about your son's murder. How would you address that question? How would you address the court or help the other family here with the truth?” Ward said.
"This is from a mother to another mother. My baby was my only son, my first born. My baby's gone without me saying goodbye. I need to know how a mother is going to feel, losing a child like that, not being able ...,” she said before stopping to control her emotions and being whisked away.
Singleton, the mother of two children ages 4 and 7, did not address the court other than to answer questions from the judge in a labored voice and to plead guilty. She left the court into a waiting vehicle without speaking to reporters.
Prosecutors say Hernandez told Singleton not to say anything to authorities about two weeks before the grand jury and told an associate she wouldn't cooperate.
But her lawyer, E. Peter Parker of Boston, said Singleton was only admitting to refusing to testify and not admitting to having the conversations with Hernandez and his associate, Ernest Wallace.
Prosecutors recommended a two-year sentence of home confinement with probation and GPS monitoring. Parker requested a one-year sentence suspended with home confinement.
Bristol County Assistant District Attorney William McCauley said that Singleton obeyed a “code of silence” or “code of the street” by refusing to testify. He said Singleton had information that could have assisted authorities in their search for the truth in Lloyd’s murder
Moreover, McCauley said he was offended that Singleton “perverted her sense of loyalty” to Hernandez and chose to go to jail on a civil contempt order rather than stay at home with her children.
But Parker said Singleton's friends who testified before the grand jury recalled her close relationship with Hernandez and Wallace.
“She chose family loyalty and family love over civic duty. I've said this before, but that's a choice many of us would have made in similar circumstances,” Parker said.
In addition, Singleton still faces charges of conspiracy to commit being an accessory to murder after the fact for allegedly helping Wallace and Hernandez associate Carlos Ortiz avoid authorities. She has pleaded innocent.
She also faces a separate criminal contempt charge for allegedly refusing to testify before a Suffolk County grand jury investigating Hernandez for the murders of two men in Boston in July 2012. He has pleaded innocent and remains in jail without bail.
Parker's request to combine the two contempt cases was rejected by a Suffolk Superior Court judge and opposed by prosecutors.
Wallace, 42, and Ortiz, 28, have also pleaded innocent to murder charges related to Lloyd's slaying and remain in jail without bail.