6 BITS: Speights, Hernandez, Calathes, Robinson

1 » Former Florida Gators center Marreese Speights declined his 2013-14 player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers and will test free agency, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Speights, who would have earned $4.515 million from the Cavaliers had he exercised his option, will likely join his fourth team in six NBA seasons unless he is signed by Cleveland, Memphis or Philadelphia, which selected him with the No. 16 overall pick in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft. Speights was traded on Jan. 22 to the Cavaliers where he averaged 10.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while shooting 45.7 percent from the field.

2 » The prosecution in the State of Massachusetts’ case against former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is now of the belief that all three men involved in the murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd are now in custody, Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter said in a statement. Ernest Wallace, 41, turned himself into Miramar, FL, police on Friday after seeing his name on the news. Investigators are now focused on finding the murder weapon as they continue to piece together a case that is based on Hernandez being the lone shooter.

RELATED: Aaron Hernandez charged with first degree murder

Check out four more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
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Aaron Hernandez charged with first degree murder

Updated Friday at 2:15 p.m.

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was charged with murder in the first degree and arraigned on five additional gun charges when he made his first appearance in front of an Attleboro District Court judge on Wednesday.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges and will be held without bail.

Hernandez, who was arrested at approximately 8:45 a.m. Wednesday at his North Attleboro, MA, home, has been the center of an investigation by Massachusetts State Police since Monday, June 17 following the “execution-style” murder of 27-year-old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.

The Patriots released Hernandez two hours after his arrest.

In addition to being charged with first degree murder at the arraignment, Hernandez was charged with carrying a firearm without a license, two counts of possession of a large-capacity firearm, and two counts of possession of a firearm without an owner’s identification card (one including ammunition).

Attorneys Michael K. Fee and James L. Sultan represented Hernandez in court as Bristol Assistant District Attorney Bill McCauley detailed a wide variety of circumstantial evidence the state has already uncovered implicating Hernandez in Lloyd’s murder.

The state has used surveillance evidence and cellular tower tracking data to place a vehicle containing Hernandez, Lloyd and two other men at the scene of the crime. Two minutes after shots were heard in the area, the vehicle arrived at Hernandez’s home, which is two minutes away from the crime scene.

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Hernandez arrested then released by Patriots

UPDATED STORY: Aaron Hernandez charged with first degree murder

Tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested at his North Attleboro, MA, home on Wednesday morning at approximately 8:45 a.m. and officially released by the New England Patriots just under two hours later.

Hernandez, who has been under intense scrutiny since June 17 when Massachusetts State Police centered a homicide investigation in and around his $1.3 million, 5,600-square foot house, has yet to be arraigned or officially charged with a crime. That will occur in a Attleboro District Court at some point Wednesday.

Following Hernandez’s arraignment, Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter will issue a statement and take questions from the press.

Over the last 10 days, police have searched Hernandez’s home three times. They last visited it on Saturday with approximately 20 officers and two K9s, removing multiple bags of evidence from the premises. On Sunday, police searched a swampland area behind the house but were reportedly unable to find anything of significance.

Attorney Michael K. Fee, a lawyer representing Hernandez, released the following statement on behalf of his client on Monday night.

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Foley defends Florida’s handling of Hernandez

Though New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has yet to be charged with a crime, a North Attleboro, MA, homicide investigation that appears to be focused on the player and his home has brought the his past decisions into question.

When New England selected Hernandez with the No. 113 overall pick in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, it did so knowing he had plenty of red flags.

He had supposedly smoked marijuana and hung out with a bad crowd in high school. He got arrested as a 17-year-old freshman with the Florida Gators after he got into a fight with a bouncer at a bar. (Hernandez was charged as a juvenile and accepted deferred prosecution). He was also questioned in a 2008 shooting in Gainesville, FL, though he spoke with police as a potential eyewitness and not a suspect, a fact conveniently left out of many reports about the incident.

Most alarming for the Patriots and other NFL teams, however, was information they learned that was also contained in a report published by the Boston Globe shortly after Hernandez was drafted by New England.

The story, citing sources from three NFL teams that knew about Hernandez’s background and supposed problems at Florida, noted that he did not just fail a drug test in 2008 (which led to a one-game suspension, the only contest he missed during his three years with the Gators). Rather, a “longtime executive” claimed, Hernandez failed from 4-6 drug tests while at Florida and was not punished accordingly.

“He had multiple positive tests, so he either had issues or he’s dumb. One or two tests? Fine. But four, five, six? Come on, now you’ve got an addiction,” the NFL executive said.

Though the Gators did not address the Globe report at the time, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley did just that on Tuesday.

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FOUR BITS: track, Tebow, Lewis, Moss

1 » A total of 10 current and former Florida Gators qualified for the 14th IAAF World Outdoor Championships over the weekend by competing in events across the globe. Twenty-one Gators participated at the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships from June 19-23 in Des Moines, IA, with six moving on to the next stage of competition. Senior Omar Craddock and reigning Olympic silver medalist Will Claye finished one-two in the men’s triple jump. (Olympic gold medalist and 2012 World Champion Christian Taylor will also compete in Moscow, Russia from Aug. 10-18.)

Olympic relay silver medalist Tony McQuay and freshman Arman Hall finished two-three in the men’s 400 meters, Kerron Clement qualified with a fifth-place finish in the men’s 400-meter hurdles, and junior Cory McGee came in third in the women’s 1,500 meters but must still meet the “B” standard qualifying time before heading off to Moscow. Additionally, Novlene Williams-Mills won the Jamaican title in the women’s 400 meters, junior Eddie Lovett will race the men’s 110-meter hurdles for the Virgin Islands, and senior Ugonna Ndu will compete in the women’s 400-meter hurdles for Nigeria. Ndu can also qualify for the 100-meter hurdles by meeting the “B” standard qualifying time in that event prior to the start of the World Championships.

2 » New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow has been keeping a low profile with his new team, just as the front office and coaching staff asked, but he is hoping to make up some of the money he lost after New York waived him with a new investment. Tebow, already a co-owner of a D1 Sports Training facility in Tampa, FL, recently signed on with the fast-growing chain restaurant PDQ as the company’s latest investor. A Tebow-owned PDQ, the company’s eighth location, will open in Jacksonville, FL, later this summer. He also has options to purchase additional stores and may open another location in Jacksonville as well as one or two more in Alachua County. Tebow happened in to a PDQ for lunch one day while taking a break from his charity work in Tampa. He returned to the restaurant that evening for a second meal and immediately asked his management company, XV Enterprises, to learn more about the chain.

Check out two more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
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Hernandez sued for shooting a man in Miami

Updated Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

While Massachusetts State Police attempt to sort out a homicide investigation after finding a body less than one mile from the North Attleboro, MA, home of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, it appears as if the former Florida Gators star is dealing with another – believed to be separate – legal issue.

According to Sports Illustrated and at least two tabloid outlets, a civil lawsuit was filed against Hernandez on June 13 alleging that he shot an acquaintance in a car during a Feb. 13 outing in Miami, FL. The lawsuit was withdrawn on June 17 for technical reasons but is expected to be refiled on Wednesday unless otherwise resolved.

Only June 13, a Hernandez acquaintance, Alexander S. Bradley, filed a civil complaint against Hernandez in U.S. District Court alleging that a gun — in Hernandez’s possession illegally — discharged and shot Bradley in the face, causing the loss of his right eye. The suit alleges Hernandez and Bradley argued at Tootsie’s strip club in Miami. The gun discharged while Hernandez, Bradley and other associates were returning from Miami to Palm Beach.

SI obtained complaint documents showing Bradley demanding in excess of $100,000. The underlying facts of the complaint include Hernandez and Bradley being in a car with two other persons driving from Miami to Palm Beach when the gun discharged. Bradley is claiming recklessness, carelessness and negligence on the part of Hernandez for illegally possessing and improperly using a firearm.

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Hernandez questioned in homicide investigation

Updated on Saturday at 2:45 p.m.

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has been questioned by Massachusetts State Police as part of a homicide investigation.

Though Hernandez is “not believed to be a murder suspect,” according to Sports Illustrated‘s sources, ABC News reports that “investigators are seeking a warrant to search Hernandez’s home in connection with the death.”

Hernandez resides in at a $1.3 million, 5,600-square foot house in North Attleboro, MA. The body of a 27-year-old male, described by ABC News as an “associate” of Hernandez, was found less than a mile from his home on Monday at 5:30 p.m.

Additionally, a 2013 Chevrolet Suburban rented in Hernandez’s name “has emerged as a key piece of evidence in the investigation,” according to SI.

ABC News, citing two sources, reports that Hernandez had not been cooperating with police; however, SI, citing “a source close to Hernandez,” notes that he has at least spoken with authorities seeking information about the murder.

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SIX BITS: Zunino, Horschel, Wambach, Elam

1 » Former Florida Gators catcher Mike Zunino earned his first career MLB start on Wednesday for the Seattle Mariners, opening the game behind the plate and batting sixth. Zunino went 1/4 with a strikeout in the game, registering his first big-league hit during his second at-bat. Had Nick Franklin not held up at third base, Zunino also would have registered his first career RBI.

2 » Billy Horschel is the only former Gators golfer competing in the 2013 U.S. Open this weekend and plans to make a statement with his attire. Should Horschel make it to Sunday, which is likely considering he is fourth in the FedEx Cup standings at this time, he will don a dark pair of pants featuring octopi. Really. See here.

3 » Though no further information was provided, U.S. Women’s National Team star striker Abby Wambach on Wednesday tweeted out this picture of her hanging out with New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes. “Hey @BrandonSpikes55 nice chillin’ with you. Gators nation forever. No doubt! #newpatsfan,” she wrote on Twitter.

Check out three more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
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