Fall River, MA – April 15, 2015
Jurors hearing the first-degree murder case in Massachusetts against Aaron Hernandez, a former tight end for the New England Patriots, came back Wednesday with a verdict of guilty. The murder, which occurred in 2013, was allegedly carried out in an industrial park in North Attleborough. The victim, Odin Lloyd, was a semiprofessional football player and landscaper by trade. A jogger found Lloyd’s body after he was murdered.
Hernandez, 25, was 23 years old at the time of the murder and had just signed a $40 million contract with the Patriots. The evidence presented by the prosecution over the course of several months included surveillance footage, rental car records, text messages, and elements of the crime scene. The prosecution also put 130 witnesses on the stand in building the case against Hernandez. In contrast, the defense took one day to present witnesses in an effort to rebut the evidence put forth by the prosecution, and then promptly rested.
Hernandez’s defense team claimed that Hernandez did witness to the murder, and used his newly signed contract as a pretext for why Hernandez was not the killer. The jury deliberated for more than 35 hours in the case, asking questions to the judge related to unlawful possession of a firearm, and unlawful possession of ammunition. They eventually came back with the guilty verdict on all counts this morning.
The prosecution alleges that Hernandez used two accomplices, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, in killing Lloyd. In addition, Hernandez’s fiancé was been indicted on one count of perjury, after she allegedly lied while under oath regarding her knowledge of details of the murder. Hernandez’s cousin, Tanya Singleton, refused to testify in front of a grand jury, and was indicted on one charge of contempt as a result. She was also been charged with conspiracy to commit accessory after the fact of murder.
Many NFL fans were shocked by the initial charges against Hernandez. His rise to popularity as one of the premier tight ends in the league was reminiscent of stars like Shannon Sharpe and Tony Gonzalez. In fact, John Clayton of ESPN, had Hernandez ranked 3rd, in front of both of the aforementioned players, of the top-10 tight ends.
According to the Associated Press, the prosecution “…never offered a clear motive for why Hernandez would want to kill Lloyd.” This is an essential element in any trial. Unfortunately for Hernandez, the remainder of the evidence convinced the jury of his guilt.
Since the case regarding Lloyd’s murder began, Hernandez has been implicated in other crimes. In May of 2014, Hernandez was charged with two more murders in which prosecutors have accused him of murdering two men after an encounter at a bar. That murder occurred at a stoplight, prosecutors allege. They claim that Hernandez snuck up behind the men at the red light and shot them both to death while they sat in the car. These murders date back to just before Hernandez signed his contract extension with the Patriots. He has pleaded not guilty in that case, as well.
The conviction comes with an automatic life sentence, without the possibility of parole.