BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — An uncle of Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end charged with murder, was operating a motor scooter under the influence of alcohol and drugs when he crashed in August and was killed, police said.
An investigation concluded that Robert J. Valentine, who had alcohol and cocaine in his system, drove his scooter in a negligent manner and was solely responsible for his Aug. 3 death in Bristol, police said. Valentine also was operating the scooter at night with dark-colored sunglasses, which likely hampered his vision, they said.
Valentine, after failing to negotiate a curve in a road, hit a curb, lost control and was thrown from the scooter, suffering a head injury, police said. He wasn't wearing a helmet, they said.
Hernandez, who grew up in Bristol, is charged with murder in the shooting death of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd, a Boston resident who was dating the sister of Hernandez's girlfriend. Lloyd's body was found June 17 not far from Hernandez's mansion in North Attleborough, Mass. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty.
Valentine is one of several people with ties to Hernandez who have died in the past seven months.
A friend, Thaddeus Singleton III, died after crashing his car into a Connecticut country club in June. He had cocaine and the painkiller oxycodone in his system, according to toxicology results released by police last month. He also tested positive for PCP and two cocaine-related drugs, Farmington police said.
A passenger in Singleton's car, Tabitha Perry, survived the crash but died last month after being found unconscious and not breathing inside a Southington home. The cause of her death remains under investigation, with toxicology tests pending.
Authorities also have been investigating whether Hernandez is linked to a 2012 double homicide in Boston. While investigating Lloyd's death, police searched Singleton's Bristol home and found an SUV that was rented in Hernandez's name and was wanted in connection with the Boston killings.
Singleton was married to Hernandez's cousin Tanya Singleton, who was indicted in September on charges of criminal contempt and conspiracy to commit accessory after the fact in the Lloyd shooting. She has pleaded not guilty.