Lawyer for ex-NFL star Hernandez calls murder witness a liar
Former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez sits with defense attorney Charles Rankin before the jury began deliberations in his murder trial at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, April 9, 2015. REUTERS/Steven Senne/Pool

An attorney for former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez on Thursday challenged prosecutors' case that his client had shot dead two men outside a Boston nightclub in 2012, and said all aspects of the prosecution's case, from the alleged motive, were untrue.

Defense attorney Jose Baez began his closing argument by saying that prosecutors' star witness, a former friend of the ex-National Football League star, had lied when he said Hernandez had grown furious with the two men after one of them inadvertently spilled a drink on him.

"It's an absolute lie," Baez said, citing testimony from other witnesses at the club that night who said they did not see a dispute between Hernandez and the Cape Verdean nationals Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado, contradicting the testimony of Alexander Bradley.

"You have absolute proof that Bradley's lying," Baez told the jury.

Showing a still image from a surveillance video taken outside of the club, he noted, "there's nothing, zero to indicate that anything had been spilled on Aaron."

During the month of testimony, prosecutors and defense lawyers called dozens of witnesses, with the prosecution's star being Bradley, who contended Hernandez had grown furious with the two men in the club.

Bradley and Hernandez later drove off and prosecutors contend that Hernandez shot the men through an open car window when they caught up with them. Bradley told the jury he had thought Hernandez meant to scare the men.

Hernandez was convicted in 2015 of fatally shooting an acquaintance, Odin Lloyd, in an industrial park near his North Attleboro, Massachusetts, home two years earlier. He is serving a life prison term for that killing.

The former star athlete, who had a $41 million contract at the time, was arrested days after Lloyd's body was found. He was cut by his team hours later.

Bradley contends that Hernandez shot him in the face while the two were on a 2013 trip to Florida after Bradley mentioned the Boston shooting. Bradley, who lost an eye in that incident, initially denied knowing who had shot him but later identified Hernandez as the alleged shooter in a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages.

Hernandez, 27, is charged with witness intimidation for that alleged shooting. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The additional murder charges also carry life sentences if he is found guilty.

Prosecutors are due to make a closing statement later on Thursday.

(Editing by David Gregorio and Bernadette Baum)