The double murder trial continued Thursday for the former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez who stands accused of killing Daniel de Abreu and Safir Furtado on July 16, 2012. The former NFL player is already sentenced to life without the possibility of parole when he was convicted nearly two years ago in another murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.
Raychildes Gomes-Sanches, a third passenger in the backseat was struck with two bullets, while a fourth escaped without being shot. Hernandez’s gun allegedly ran out of ammo and he vanished in his silver 4Runner off of down the Mass Turnpike.
One of the prosecution’s keys witnesses, surviving victim Gomes-Sanches, was back on the stand Thursday and testified that he saw someone in the shooter’s vehicle that looked “just like” Hernandez. However, Gomes-Sanches also had to explain some of his statements made to Boston police that conflict with what he said on the stand. For example, one of the police interview tapes includes Gomes-Sanches describing the driver of the shooter’s SUV as a clean shaven, young “American boy” and a white male. In court, he suggested that the man he saw in the shooter’s car saw could’ve been “like Spanish, light-skinned.”
Defense attorney Jose Baez went after Gomes-Sanches hard on cross-examination, focusing on the portion of a police report where Gomes-Sanches told cops he knew almost nothing about firearms and did not touch them when the cops asked if the shooter used a revolver or semi-automatic handgun. However, Baez then presented photos from Gomes-Sanches’s social media accounts that appear to show him holding a gun. Gomes-Sanches told prosector’s the gun was a movie prop.
Baez then referred back to Gomes-Sanches’ testimony from Wednesday that he initially left the scene of the shooting without speaking to police and even burned his bloody clothes. Gomes-Sanches said he was just “in a panic” after the event and did not want the clothes because they were a painful reminder of losing his friends.
Throughout this testimony, the defense attempted to suggest to the jury that this was a gangland shooting or drug related shooting that had nothing to do with Aaron Hernandez.
However, Baez’s was only allowed to go so far into the gang theory in the presence of the jury. Judge Jeffrey Locke held a hearing with the jury outside the room where he showed where he really hoped to go with his defense. In that hearing, Baez flat out alleged that Gomes-Sanches had gang ties and presented additional social media pictures that showed him posing with his fingers raised to make certain symbols. Baez suggested it was Cape Verdean Outlaw gang signs, but Gomes-Sanches rejected the notion that the symbols held any particular meaning to him.
“I do whatever I want with my fingers,” Gomes-Sanches said. “It doesn’t mean [anything], three fingers in the air.” He also denied ever being a gang member.
Ultimately, Judge Locke ruled Baez had presented insufficient evidence to discuss Gomes-Sanches alleged gang affiliation any further in front of the jury.
“You can’t just throw things out there to simply smear a witness without any good faith belief that it actually ties in [to the case],” Judge Locke said in part of his ruling.
Testimony in the trial will resume Friday and LawNewz will have live courtroom coverage and analysis of the action.
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