Former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez murdered an acquaintance in an industrial park near his Massachusetts home, a jury determined on Wednesday, at the end of the first of two murder trials the former player faces this year.
The jury found Hernandez, 25, guilty of first-degree murder in the June 2013 slaying of Odin Lloyd, who had been dating Hernandez’s fiancee’s sister at the time. During the trial, the men were described as having been in the early stages of friendship, but Hernandez soured on his victim after Lloyd hung out with people the former New England Patriots tight end disliked.
The Patriots cut Hernandez, a rising star with a $41 million contract, hours after his arrest on June 26, 2013, nine days after a teenage jogger found Lloyd’s body.
The highly publicized case was another black eye for the NFL. The United States’ most profitable sports league was already facing a lawsuit by former players who contend it ignored the concussion risks they faced on the gridiron and criticism for its handling of cases involving domestic violence by players.
During the four months of testimony, the jury heard from more than 130 witnesses who testified that Hernandez, a native of Bristol, Connecticut, was a regular user of marijuana and sometimes of the stimulant PCP, that he owned guns and at times acted paranoid and said he felt his friends did not appreciate the things he did for them.
The witnesses included Alexander Bradley, a former friend of Hernandez’s who charged in a civil lawsuit that the former NFL player shot him in the face in February 2013, costing him an eye. Bradley, who never pursued criminal charges over the incident, testified that he saw Hernandez handle a gun similar to the one used to kill Lloyd, but was not allowed to tell the jury about the shooting.
Investigators never recovered the .45-caliber Glock pistol that was used to pump six bullets into Lloyd, who had been a semiprofessional football player.
Robert Kraft, the Patriots’ billionaire owner, was also called to the stand. Kraft testified that Hernandez said he was innocent and claimed to have been at a nightclub at the time of the killing.
The first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole.
Prosecutors contended that two friends, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, were with Hernandez at the time of the killing. Those two men will be tried separately.
Defense lawyers closed their case by saying Hernandez had been present at the time of Lloyd’s slaying, but had been a witness not a participant.
“He was a 23-year-old kid who witnessed … a shocking killing committed by somebody he knew,” said defense attorney James Sultan. “He really didn’t know what to do. So he just put one foot in front of the other.”
Prosecutors countered that Hernandez had plotted and controlled every detail of the slaying.
“He believed he could kill Odin Lloyd and nobody would ever believe that he was involved,” said Assistant District Attorney William McCauley.
Hernandez was also found guilty of two firearms charges for illegally possessing the handgun used in the crime and illegally possessing .22-caliber ammunition found at his North Attleborough, Massachusetts, home.
Hernandez faces another trial beginning later this year in Boston, where he is charged with fatally shooting Cape Verdean nationals Daniel Abreu and Safirdo Furtado outside a nightclub after one of them spilled a drink. The jury that rendered the Lloyd verdict was not told about that case.
(Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
GOP strategist Tara Setmayer says Republicans will defend Trump until he uses the N-word
Republican strategist Tara Setmayer told a CNN panel that the only way the GOP is going to be willing to stand up to President Donald Trump is if he uses the N-word.
In a panel discussion with CNN's Jake Tapper, Setmayer said that the Republicans in office will bend over backward trying to defend everything the president says and does.
"I think we’re at the point where I think anything short of the N-word they will make excuses for because at that point there is really no question about it, right?" she said. "So, it is obvious to everyone else, it is amazing to me how many of the Republicans are going out there and I said this yesterday, try to white-splain to people of color what racism is and what it feels like to deal with that every single day."
The media’s ‘Made in America’ problem: Trump creates racist controversy — and gets free campaign coverage
Let’s presume, however depressing that notion may be, that mainstream news organizations will continue to fumble the ball when it comes to directly calling blatantly racist statements coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth what they are, which is racist.
Let’s also presume that in the fallout of such incidents like Trump’s racist tweets on Sunday, media organizations adopt predictable stances. Most struggle to maintain a sense of equanimity and fairness when it comes to calling out Trump’s racism. Fox amplifies it.
‘Devastating, illegal, and unethical’: Trump denounced for imposing sweeping attack on abortion rights nationwide
Warning of "severe" consequences for reproductive healthcare, critics condemn the Title X gag rule as "blatantly coercive and a violation of medical ethics and patients' rights."
After President Donald Trump's administration announced Monday that it would immediately begin enforcing a ban on abortion referrals at clinics that receive federal tax dollars, outraged reproductive rights advocates warned about the impact on healthcare nationwide and vowed to keep fighting against what they call the domestic gag rule.