The jury in the double murder case against former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez was sent home early by the judge on Monday so the attorneys could argue motions over the testimony of Warren McMaster, a Boston city street sweeper truck driver. The defense accused the prosecution of Brady violations for allegedly not turning over potentially exculpatory evidence offered by McMaster.
The former New England Patriots player is already sentenced to life without the possibility of parole when he was convicted nearly two years ago in another murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. He is now facing additional charges for the murders of Daniel de Abreu and Safir Furtado on July 16, 2012.
Lead Prosecutor Pat Haggan said Hernandez was out on the town with a convicted cocaine dealer and they headed to the Cure nightclub when Hernandez was bumped by de Abreu and a drink spilled as a result of the physical contact. Abreu, according to prosectors, did not think much of the incident and did not apologize to Hernandez. Haggan said this was taken as a lack of respect by Hernandez, while most people wouldn’t have given it a second thought.
He then told jurors video surveillance outside a club shows Alexander Bradley, a one-time friend of Hernandez’s, pleading with the NFL star to calm down. After spending several hours at more clubs, Haggan said Hernandez retrieved a gun from a secret compartment in his vehicle and began circling the area, essentially hunting de Abreu and his crew. Unfortunately for de Abreu, prosecutors allege Hernandez located him, running a red light in the process to pull up besides de Abreu’s vehicle. He then allegedly called the man’s name.
According to Haggan, Bradley will testify Hernandez pulled up and said, “Yo, what’s up now?” Bradley is then expected to accuse Hernandez of shouting a racial slur before leaning across the driver’s seat and firing five shots into de Abreau vehicle. In addition to killing de Abreu, Hernandez allegedly killed Furtado, a passenger in the car. A third passenger in the backseat was struck with two bullets, and then Hernandez’s gun allegedly ran out of ammo and he vanished off of down the Mass Turnpike.
However, on Monday, McMaster was called to the stand were he testified that he was on the job at the time of the murders and drove his truck right by the scene. According to McMaster’s testimony, he claims he told police he drove past the murder scene and observed a white SUV and a woman appeared to be filming while stretched out the sunroof.
“She could have been making a phone call or looking for help. Did you tell this to officers?” defense attorney Jose Baez said.
“Yes,” answered McMaster.
For their part, Boston Police deny ever receiving such an account from McMasters on the morning of the murder, claiming they first heard the version last week when McMaster’s was issued a subpoena to testify at trial. Detective Paul MacIsaac said McMaster never told him any such story and he was “surprised” to hear it come out just now.
An additional portion of McMaster’s testimony was that police “forced” him to empty his truck in an effort to search for potential evidence of the shooting and generally treated him in at hreatening manner. Police, however, countered that McMaster agreed to empty to trash bins on his own and did not even think he was close enough to the shooting to pick up any gun shells or other evidence.
If McMaster’s account is true, it would raise the possibility of a different shooter at the scene and completely change the case, because Hernandez’s SUV is silver, not white. The failure to disclosure potentially exculpatory evidence to the defense by prosecutors is a Brady violation that could also result in charges being thrown out in the case.
The judge, having heard the arguments, will now make a determination of what jurors can hear of McMaster’s claims on the stand during the actual trial when it is expected to resume Tuesday morning.
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