The life of former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez, convicted of murder, has taken a detour to jail. Formerly a tight end with the New England Patriots, he has been convicted of first-degree murder for shooting and killing Odin L. Lloyd. Hernandez, 25, allegedly killed Lloyd after he made the fatal error of angering him at a club a couple of nights before his death.
Life Sentence for Aaron Hernandez
At his sentencing in the Bristol Superior Court to mandatory life without possibility of parole, Hernandez was expressionless. After the guilty verdict was announced by the jury foreperson, he sat down with his head shaking.
According to prosecutors, Hernandez, Ernest Wallace, and Carlos Ortiz, picked Lloyd up on June 17, 2013, from his Dorchester residence and drove to an industrial park in North Attleborough, near Hernandez’s home. Hernandez then shot Lloyd several times, two of which were direct hits to his chest.
Five years before the murder Hernandez had signed a five-year contract with a $40 million extension to play for the New England Patriots. Although he helped the Patriots get to Super Bowl XLVI, they ended up losing to the Giants 17-21.
Motive for Killing Odin Lloyd
Although the motive for Hernandez killing Lloyd was never clearly stated by prosecutors, they managed to paint a picture of a young man who, according to a witness who testified at the murder trial, was secretive and easily provoked at mere slights, in spite of his good looks, sizable fortune, and bright future as an NFL star.
Witnesses testified that two nights prior to Lloyd’s murder, he and Hernandez had gone together to a Boston club together, where Hernandez allegedly got angry when Lloyd began talking with other people. Hernandez alleged stormed out to his vehicle and returned with a handgun which allegedly was used to kill Lloyd two days later.
Hernandez Murder Weapon Still Missing
Although the gun used in the murder wasn’t found, and no potential eyewitnesses to the murder testified, the prosecution built their case using circumstantial evidence including cell phone records, DNA, surveillance footage, and various other evidence discovered at the crime scene. The prosecution was able to construct a scenario of Lloyd’s final ride, which included testimony by witnesses to Hernandez’s suspicious behavior before and after the murder.
Fiancee Shayanna Jenkins Faces Perjury Indictment
Shayanna Jenkins, Hernandez’s fiancee, is facing perjury charges for testifying that Hernandez told her to remove a box located in their basement the day after Lloyd was murdered.
According to authorities, the removed box contained the .45 caliber Glock gun that Hernandez killed Lloyd with. Hernandez’s defense attorneys stated that based on Jenkin’s testimony relating to the smell and weight of the box, chances are it contained compressed packages of marijuana.
The defense team for Hernandez alleged the prosecution’s investigation was biased and botched, as well as incompetent from the beginning due to the police fixating on Hernandez and not following up on other evidence that may have pointed to other suspects.
Did Wallace or Ortiz Kill Lloyd?
Defense attorney James Sultan closed his arguments by suggesting that either Wallace or Ortiz, two other men allegedly involved in the killing of Lloyd, may have killed him while in a drug-induced state. Based on this argument, Hernandez may have taken the gun away from them when they came back to his place in order to protect himself.
Although Sultan agreed Hernandez was present at the murder scene, he maintained that he had only been a witness to Lloyd’s shooting and not actually involved in any plan to kill him.
Wallace and Ortiz will be separately tried in connection with Lloyd’s murder.
Guilty Verdict Found Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
According to Hernandez’s defense team, the presented evidence didn’t add up to a guilty verdict of beyond a reasonable doubt. Typically it’s the prosecutor’s job to prove their version of what occurred happened in such a way that no “reasonable person” could have a “reasonable doubt” as to whether the defendant was guilty or innocent. Although some doubt may exist, it can’t be to the extent that it would make a reasonable person believe the defendant is guilty of the alleged crime.
While he prosecution questioned 132 witnesses, including Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, fiancee Shayanna Jenkins, and a former friend or Hernandez’s who claimed he was shot in the face by Hernandez in Florida four months prior to Lloyd’s murder. Compared to this, the defense team only called three witnesses.
Hernandez’s defense team felt the prosecutor was unable to credibly explain any motive as to why Hernandez wanted to kill Lloyd. The relationship between the two men seemed to be that between “future brothers-in-law” according to the team. The two men socialized together at family gatherings, dated each other’s sisters, pursued women together, went to nightclubs together, and smoked marijuana together.
In spite of this, William McCauley, the lead prosecutor, suggested that Lloyd and Hernandez shared little in common.
McCauley stated, “I think it was a great contrast between two young men. The defendant, who had so much — so much ability, talent, money, all the things that everyone thinks you need. And you had Odin Lloyd, who didn’t want that.”
McCauley said Lloyd was a man who rode his bicycle to his various landscaping jobs and “didn’t want [anything] given to him. He was going to earn it.”
News Conference with Jury Unusual
After the conviction, the entire jury addressed the reporters in a news conference, which was an unusual event. According to juror Kelly Dorsey the panel had not prejudged the case, saying “You have to assume that the man sitting in that seat is innocent until the prosecution proves he’s guilty and that’s what happened today.”
Prosecutors praised the jurors for their ability to look past the fact that Hernandez was a celebrated athlete who had once been cheered at New England Patriot games.
Jury Issues Verdict After Seven Days
After an 11-week long trial, the jurors finally arrived at a verdict on the seventh day. As the jury foreperson read the verdict, emotional responses from the families of both Hernandez and Lloyd echoed throughout the court room.
As the former pro-football star looked at his mother and fiancee he whispered “be strong” repeatedly as the two women held each other and wept.
Ursula Ward, Lloyd’s mother, sat and cried by Shaneah, the now estranged sister of Jenkins. Shaneah had dated Lloyd at one point.
“Odin was my first, best gift I ever received,” Ward said to Judge E. Susan Garsh in the sentencing hearing after Hernandez was conviction. “I thank God [for] every second and every day of my son’s life that I spent with him.”
She also forgave the three men saying, “I forgive the hands of the people who had a hand in my son’s murder, either before or after.”
The lawyers for Hernandez didn’t make any comments in reference to either the verdict or when he was sentenced. In reference to the murder conviction all Sultan said was “we don’t have anything to add. Obviously the court needs to impose the statutory penalty.”
Olivia Thibou, Lloyd’s sister, expressed her gratitude to the prosecution for their handling of the case. She said her family was still grieving.
Hernandez Placed in MCI Cedar Junction State Prison
After the verdict was announced, Hernandez was taken to MCI Cedar Junction, less than 2 miles away from the place he used to play when he was with the Patriots. Until the state’s highest court reviews his conviction, he’ll remain there until they decide a permanent prison to be placed in.
District Attorney Thomas Quinn said, “Aaron Hernandez may have been a well-known New England Patriots football player. However, in the end, the jury found that he was just a man who committed a brutal murder.”
Hernandez Faces a Separate Indictment for Double-Murder
In addition to the conviction for Lloyd’s murder, Hernandez faces a double-murder indictment in Suffolk County, where he allegedly gunned down Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado. The drive-by shooting happened in Boston’s South End on July 2012. Currently there has no court date set for this case.
Safiro’s father, Salvador Furtado, has stated that he wants the alleged killer of his son pay, “Justice in America is very strong. I believe in justice in America.
If you’ve been accused of manslaughter or homicide, you need an expert criminal defense attorney who will ensure your protection from these consequences, such as Sevens Legal, APC. Contact Sevens Legal, APC, today for a free consultation.
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