19 Apr

The Crimes of Aaron Hernandez

by in Articles, Criminal Defense
Aaroon Hernandez

Hernandez in Tough Spot

When the New England Patriots announced they had fired tight end Aaron Hernandez from the team following his arrest, an acquaintance of mine had said it was a classy move. I didn’t really know what that meant because firing Hernandez seemed like a business decision. The Pats weren’t going to associate with a possible murder convict and continue to pay him through his probably lengthy trial process. There just didn’t seem another option for the three-time Super Bowl champs.

The Patriots’ decision, however, is the only detail about the Hernandez case that isn’t bizarre or unsettling. The whole story behind Odin Lloyd’s murder feels almost unreal, like the kind of thing you might see in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” or the HBO gangster tragedy “The Sopranos.”

On June 14, 2013, Hernandez went to popular Boston nightclub, “Rumor,” with his friend and semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd (who had also been dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée). Bristol County Assistant District Attorney Bill McCauley stated there had been some problems between Lloyd and Hernandez. Allegedly, Hernandez had seen Lloyd talking to some people that Hernandez had some unpleasant encounters with in the past.

McCauley also stated that, two days later, Hernandez texted some friends to come to his house as soon as possible. Surveillance footage revealed Hernandez holding a gun, telling his friends that he couldn’t trust anybody. The three men then left Hernandez’s home in a rented Altima. Police used cell towers to track them to a gas station where Hernandez bought blue Bubbalicious gum. Cell towers then tracked them to Lloyd’s house where McCauley alleges they picked him up. Hernandez, while driving to the industrial park where Lloyd’s body was found, allegedly told Lloyd that he couldn’t trust him anymore.

Lloyd apparently started inconspicuously texting his sister and these texts became key evidence in the investigation and subsequent arrest. Lloyd’s body was found with multiple gun shot wounds, including two from above (indicating he was on the ground and perhaps already wounded when they were fired). There were five .45 caliber casings found at the crime scene. Overnight employers reported hearing gunshots and surveillance footage shows the Altima leaving the park around the same time as the reports. Police are describing the murder as execution style, a term that heightens the surreal nature of this story.

At around 3:30 a.m., recovered surveillance footage in Hernandez’s home showed him walking around with a gun (which has not been found). The then stops recording for the next six hours.

The next day, Hernandez returned the rented car and the attendant who cleaned the vehicle found a gum wrapper and a shell casing, which the attendant threw away. Police searched a trash bin located at the rental facility and found both items. The bullet casing matched the ones found at the scene.

hernandez-arrestHernandez was arrested on Wednesday, the 26th. He has officially been charged with first-degree murder and five weapons count. His attorney, Michael Fee of Ropes & Gray, contends that the police are using circumstantial evidence in piecing together the case, forcing the evidence together to form a neat package. This will be a key point of argument in the upcoming trial. The NFL star, however, has pleaded not guilty, despite the mountain of evidence against him.

Hernandez had recently signed a 5-year contract with the Pats for $40 million. The NFL team released a statement saying, “[w]ords cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation. We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process.”

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Written by Manish M. Mathur, 3L New England Law | Boston