With the torrent of evidence and the extreme twists and turns in the Aaron Hernandez double homicide case, who knows what the jury will decide? What is obvious, however, is that they have a tough decision to make and only time will tell what that decision will be. In my opinion, the defense team lead by famed attorney Jose Baez has the upper hand over the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but I caution that neither side can pop the bubbly just yet. It’s a still crapshoot because we don’t have the liberty of being a fly on the wall in the jury’s deliberation room.
The jurors, who were formally handed the case last Friday, have been sequestered in an information vacuum for nearly a month only receiving that information which the court deemed appropriate for their consumption. They have been subjected to endless sidebar after sidebar and hours upon hours of testimony knowing that at the end of it all, they would ultimately take on that difficult task of decider-in-chief. There is, undoubtedly, a heap of evidence for them to sift through, both circumstantial and direct. They will question the number of bullets and the amount of shots fired. They will ask about immunity and what that entails. They will wonder about the character of the witnesses and whether they can be trusted, but at the end of the day, their collective voice will in unison render a verdict of guilty or not guilty.
WATCH LIVE HERE WHEN VERDICT COMES DOWN:
Throughout the proceedings, Aaron Hernandez’s dream team, lead by attorney Baez of Casey Anthony fame and Harvard professor Ronald Sullivan, has managed to poke enough holes in the government’s case to sink a cargo ship. The defense relentlessly attacked the Commonwealth’s key witness, Alexander Bradley, labeling him as incredible and even attempted to paint him as the real murderer of Sanfiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu. They also tried to cast the government as complicit in a sinister plot to make an example out of the convicted former football star and his bad boy image. This plot, the defense argued, involved handing out of immunity to witnesses in a manner rivaling only that of media mogul Oprah Winfrey handing out free stuff, just for the chance of getting a conviction, without regard for the truth. Additionally, the defense contended that the Commonwealth fumbled its case with sloppy or incomplete police work and even may have gone as far as to exclude witnesses, such as the now infamous street sweeper Warren McMaster, whose testimony we won’t soon forget. (As a slight aside: I think he needs his own reality TV show).
After all of this, I am sure that viewers were wondering how the Commonwealth could recover, if at all, from the endless doom forecasted upon its case. Well, prosecutor Patrick Haggan may have allayed some concerns during his closing argument. He did a good job, in my opinion, of attempting to bring the case full circle in a very cogent fashion; he pieced the evidence together bit by bit, meticulously connecting dots that were laid bare throughout the case. He did an artful job; I’ll give him that. During closing, Mr. Haggan made it seem as if it was the government’s strategy all along to purposefully call those recalcitrant witnesses’ characters into question because he somehow knew that they would be hostile witnesses on the stand. They were more than hostile, they suffered from what seems to have been selective bouts of amnesia. One by one, they were called in what was to be an endless procession, including Hernandez’s fiancée and friends, whose testimony—or lack thereof—can best be described as akin to nails on a chalkboard. The witnesses couldn’t remember anything of substance aside from those things that they believed would add doubt to the government’s case. Mr. Haggan tried to impart on the jury that aside from Mr. Bradley, who was supposedly believable, the other government witnesses were attempting to maintain a shameful code of silence all in an effort to protect Hernandez.
But did the prosecution do enough? The platitude “too little, too late” comes to mind. Judging from the evidence, it is my belief that there is indeed enough questionable evidence in this case for the jurors to find that the Commonwealth has not met that persnickety legal standard of proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Black’s Law Dictionary succinctly summarizes the standard this way: “the facts proven must, by virtue of their probative force, establish guilt.” The emphasis is my own. Although Mr. Hernandez may indeed have a bad boy profile and his chosen lot of friends may appear somewhat unsavory, to say the least, that in and of itself shouldn’t under judicious circumstances overcome the reasonable doubt raised by the defense’s endless assault on the Commonwealth’s evidence. I harken back to the searing reasonable doubt rose by the street sweeper’s testimony or when we lost count of the number of bullets fired from the weapon. There was also reasonable doubt by the defense when they attacked the Commonwealth’s star witness, Mr. Bradley, as someone with something to gain. Mr. Hernandez’s team was also precise in their unyielding attacks on the government’s endless grant of immunity. The list of holes is long and if I were to name them all, this would be a ponderous tome, so I’ll spare you the details.
All in all, it is my opinion that the defense did its duty by derailing the Commonwealth’s case piece by piece. However, if the outcome doesn’t favor the defense, it can rest on the fact that it also did a masterful job of preserving its case for appeal.
Ty Martin is a Florida based attorney.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.