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A wedding could shield Hernandez’s fiancée from testifying

Hernandez

The lengthy summary of evidence from prosecutor Bill McCauley on Thursday included an allegation that Aaron Hernandez’s fiancée initially was cooperating with police. But then, per McCauley, Hernandez called and told her to stop talking to the police. She complied.

This raises an important question as the case unfolds. If Hernandez and his fiancée get married before trial, will she be able to refuse to testify against her husband?

Under Massachusetts law, the answer is yes. “A spouse shall not be compelled to testify in the trial of an indictment, complaint, or other criminal proceeding brought against the other spouse,” the law states regarding the concept of the spousal privilege.

Massachusetts law also recognizes the concept of spousal disqualification, which prevents a spouse from testifying about communications occurring during the marriage -- even if the spouse wants to.

And so, if Hernandez and his fiancée get married, she can refuse under Massachusetts law to testify.

There’s also a chance, albeit slim, that Hernandez and his fiancée can claim to have a common-law marriage. Application of the spousal privilege would be far cleaner, however, if Hernandez and his fiancée get married.