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Arguments resume today for Day 23 of the Aaron Hernandez double murder trial.
Prosecutors rested their case-in-chief yesterday morning. After a series of defense witnesses whose testimony was brief, court wrapped up early on Monday. No one will take the stand on Tuesday, attorneys explained, because the next round of defense witnesses is not available until Wednesday. That is when testimony will resume. Arguments on Tuesday are scheduled, however, to discuss jury instructions and potentially other matters. The jury will not be seated, but LawNewz will carry the arguments live.
On Monday, the final prosecution witness, Robert Sattana, was an investigator who reviewed more than twenty-two hours of surveillance video from the Cure night club and its surrounding area. One of the cameras at Cure, he explained, ran slower than the others, making synchronization difficult. He admitted on cross-examination that the video surveillance did not show the spilled drink which prosecutors allege led Hernandez to gun down two people later that night.
Defense attorneys began their case-in-chief by calling two witnesses who had encountered Hernandez in clubs.
Antoine Salvador testified that he asked Hernandez for a photo at Cure. Initially, Hernandez said no. He then explained that it was his birthday. Hernandez then agreed. Salvador described Hernandez as polite and calm throughout the evening.
Andrew Wallace testified that he was working security at another nearby venue. He saw Hernandez walking towards Tremont Street. Later, Wallace testified coming across the murder scene and calling 911.
Warren MacMaster, the street sweeper, testified in front of the jury for the first time. He explained that he drove past the murder scene shortly after the shots were fired and saw other people standing near the victims’ vehicle. He also testified seeing a woman standing out of the sun roof recording the scene. He said that he told police about the witness; however, so far, the purported witness has not been found. The police claim he didn’t provide this information during their initial contact with him.
McMaster reiterated that the police behaved rudely and “disrespectfully,” on the night of the murders and that they were threatening to arrest him. They told him to “shut [his] mouth and remain quiet,” he said. Officers told him to empty his hopper on another road, where they searched through it for possible evidence. He testified that the police ordered him not to talk to reporters; if he did, they said, they would arrest him. He said that the police didn’t try to get him to change his story.
T.J. Gargasz, the VIP manager at Tootsie’s, the cabaret in Florida allegedly visited by Hernandez and his friend Alexander Bradley just before Bradley was shot in the face, testified that Hernandez was a frequent customer. He said that Hernandez would stop by the club with other NFL players and friends. Hernandez was “always good, polite, and well spoken,” Gargasz said. He said he’d seen lots of “bad” people at the club, but that Hernandez always handled fan attention well, even with obnoxious fans.
Hernandez is charged with several crimes related to the double murder shooting of Daniel de Abreu and Safir Furtado outside a Boston nightclub in July 2012. Prosecutors alleged Hernandez killed the victims after they spilled a drink on him and then laughed at him.
The defense is indicating that it may rest its case Wednesday. Closing arguments might occur as early as Thursday.
The defense contends the prosecution’s star witness, Alexander Bradley, actually shot the victims that night as part of drug deal gone bad. They also claim that is why he was shot in the face in 2013, while prosecutors say Hernandez fired those shots to keep Bradley quiet about the 2012 murders. Bradley testified for the prosecution under a grant of immunity and is serving a sentence for a 2014 nightclub shooting.
On Friday, Bradley’s cousin, Robert Lindsey, testified that he was told by Bradley that “(expletive) Aaron shot me in the eye.” Lindsey also made it pretty clear to prosecutor Pat Haggan that he was not happy about having to take a day off work to come down from Connecticut to testify.
On cross-examination, Jose Baez got Lindsey to admit his cousin was likely a major drug supplier and trafficker, saying, “I guess, I know he deals with big guys.” Once again, Baez was attempting to portray Bradley’s drug dealing as the reason for the shooting.
Throughout the trial, the prosecution has tried to link Hernandez to the scene through text messages, gunshot residue, and even tattoos that prosecutors argue show evidence of guilt. However, the only person to actually identify Hernandez as the shooter was Bradley, a convicted felon, testifying as part of a deal from the prosecution. Other witnesses suggested at certain points during the investigation to possibly seeing a woman in the shooter’s car.
By one count, prosecutors called at least 62 witnesses to testify in their case in chief.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to all counts related to the 2012 shootings.
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