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Aaron Hernandez identified as shooter in 2012 drive-by shooting

(AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, Pool)
BOSTON -- A man who survived a deadly 2012 drive-by shooting in Boston identified former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez in court Tuesday as the one who pulled the trigger.

The judge presiding over the upcoming murder trial denied a bid by Hernandez's lawyer to push back the February start.

Prosecutors asked Raychides Sanches during Tuesday's pretrial hearing to describe the chaotic scene the night of July 16, 2012.

Sanches said he had been a passenger in a car stopped at a light in the city's South End when an SUV pulled up. He said someone from the SUV said, "What's up, negroes?" and then gunfire erupted.

Sanches said bullets struck 29-year-old Daniel de Abreu and 28-year-old Safiro Furtado.

When asked who the shooter was, Sanches nodded in the direction of Hernandez in Suffolk Superior Court, the Boston Herald reported.

"Looked like him," he said. "Hernandez."

Another survivor of the shooting, Aquilino Freire, told the court he was shot twice. He described the shooter as light skinned, with no beard and tattoos.

Hernandez faces two counts of murder in the deaths of Furtado and de Abreu.

Prosecutors say he gunned down the two men after one of them bumped into him at a Boston nightclub earlier that night. The former tight end has pleaded not guilty.

Hernandez already is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the 2013 shooting death of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd.

Tuesday's hearing focused on a number of pretrial issues, as jury selection is slated to begin Feb. 13. Prosecutors are asking the judge to allow Sanches and Freire to give a general description of the shooter during trial.

Defense lawyers argued that attorney-client privilege might have been violated because prison officials have acknowledged that Hernandez's jailhouse calls were accessed by unauthorized people while he was awaiting his first murder trial.

Hernandez is due back in court for another hearing Dec. 27.

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