Aaron Hernandez has been indicted on a first-degree murder charge Credit: Michael DeHoog/Sports Imagery/ Getty Images

Aaron Hernandez played offense for the New England Patriots, but what he needs most now is a strong defense. On Thursday, Aug. 22, the ex-NFL player was indicted by a grand jury on a first-degree murder charge in the shooting death of his former friend, Odin Lloyd.

Hernandez, 23, was supposed to appear in court to argue the evidence against him in a probable cause hearing, but now that he's been indicted, the case will proceed directly to Superior Court. According to a court filing, he faces five weapons charges in addition to the first-degree murder charge.

If convicted, the athlete may be confronted with a possible sentence of life in prison without parole.

Lloyd, 27, was found dead on June 17 after being shot five times and left in an industrial park just a half-mile from Hernandez's house in North Attleborough, Mass. Prosecutors allege that Hernandez -- along with Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, both of whom have been indicted on lesser charges -- orchestrated Lloyd's murder after he was caught talking to people Hernandez didn't like.

Hernandez, who is also being investigated in a July 2012 drive-by double homicide in Boston, was subsequently taken into custody on June 26. He pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and has been held without bail ever since.