The fate of former New England Patriots football star Aaron Hernandez is in the hands of a Massachusetts jury. Hernandez is charged with killing two men and injuring a third in a shooting outside a nightclub in Boston in July 2016. Prosecutors allege Hernandez became enraged after one of the victims allegedly spilled a drink on him and never apologized.
The prosecution’s key witness, Alexander Bradley, testified under a grant of immunity that he was driving Hernandez’s SUV on the night of the shootings and that Hernandez reach over and fired five shots, killing Daniel de Abreu and Safir Furtado. A third victim was struck with a bullet, but survived. Months later, prosecutors allege Hernandez then shot Bradley in a failed effort to silence him.
The defense, led by Jose Baez, blamed the Boston Police for shoddy police work because they failed to solve the crime for so many years. He also argued that no physical evidence tied Hernandez to the scene and at least two independent witnesses claimed during police interviews that there may have been a woman in the shooter’s vehicle.
Baez also lashed out hard at Bradley, calling him a turncoat simply looking for the best deal to perhaps get an easier sentence on a 2014 conviction for shooting up a nightclub. Baez also claimed that Bradley was the shooter on the evening of July 2012 and it was all over a drug deal gone bad.
After nearly one and half hours of instructions from the judge, the jurors now hold Hernandez’s fate in their hands.
He has denied any involvement in the 2012 killings. However, he is currently serving a life sentence without parole for the killing of Odin Lloyd. That case is on appeal.
Jurors left the courthouse without a verdict after more than 12 hours of deliberations over two days on Monday without reaching a verdict. At the end of the day, jurors asked one more question that required a lengthy answer, so the judge sent them home for the night and instructed to return Tuesday. Judge Locke explained he would meet with the attorneys and draft an appropriate response to the question before jurors resumed deliberations on Tuesday.
Monday was not without fireworks, however, as defense attorney Ronald Sullivan and the judge had a rather spirited dispute over the judge’s decision to select a white female foreperson for the majority-minority jury panel. Sullivan argued it unfairly deprived potential jurors the opportunity to serve on the jury, while Locke took it as a personal attack that the woman was selected just because she was white.
“I find it astounding that you would made that claim,” Locke said, adding he felt personally offended and felt the comments offended “the integrity of the” court system
The renewed motion for mistrial on this point was denied, but may show up again on appeal, if Hernandez is convicted.
The jury will return Tuesday morning. Stick with LawNewz to see the verdict live and analysis with our panel of experts.
[image via screengrab]