The double murder trial continued Wednesday for the former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez who stands accused of the killing Daniel de Abreu and Safir Furtado on July 16, 2012. 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. Cameras were allowed back in the courtroom Wednesday, with a stern warning from the judge that if any mistakes occurred again with jurors being shown on TV, the cameras were out for good.
Lead Prosecutor Pat Haggan says 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. Haggan said this was taken as a lack of respect by Hernandez, while most people wouldn’t have given it a second thought, and then accused Hernandez of retrieving a gun from a secret compartment in his vehicle and circling the area, essentially hunting de Abreu and his crew. The prosecutor says Hernandez eventually caught up with his target at a stoplight and allegedly opening fire. 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, while a fourth escaped without being shot. Hernandez’s gun allegedly ran out of ammo and he vanished in his silver 4Runner off of down the Mass Turnpike.
That third passenger who was injured testified on Wednesday, in front a tearful family members of the other two victims. Aquilino Freire was in the backseat of the BMW the night of the shooting and was struck with two bullets himself. Freire described hearing a male voice shout, “What up (expletive)” just before the “panic” of gunshots broke out, killing his two friends. He also described waiting for help to arrive as his friends were bleeding to death in the street, recalling that he tried to tell de Abreu to “stay strong.”
“He was trying to talk. He was dying,” Freire told jurors, speaking about de Abreu. “I was trying to talk to him.”
Prior to the shooting, Freire recalled “just drinking, having fun” inside the Cure Lounge. Curiously, he did not describe any altercations inside the lounge, which prosecutors have long made a focal point of what allegedly caused Hernandez to become an enraged killer that evening.
The fourth passenger in the BMW that night, who was not shot, also took the stand and testified on Thursday. Raychides Gomes-Sanches told the jurors he simply remembered “a lot” of shots being fired. He also described an emotional scene of de Abreu bleeding out on the sidewalk as paramedics arrived. He testified that he recalled telling de Abreu, “Don’t die, man,” but de Abreu soon died on the street.
At one point, Hernandez defense team apparently attempted to block some of Gomes-Sanchez’s testimony, seeking an emergency appeal, but it was denied and the testimony continued.
Two Cure nightclub bouncers rounded out Wednesday’s testimony.
Jamie Furtado admitted to seeing an interaction between Hernandez and de Abreu inside the club before midnight, but importantly for the defense, he did not describe the interaction as hostile or confrontational. Again, this seems to conflict with prosecutor Haggan’s open statement that Hernandez was bumped by de Abreu inside the club, causing a drink to spill on Hernandez. And, according to Haggan, it was that spilled drink that allegedly caused Hernandez to feel disrespected and later shoot up the BMW.
However, the second Cure nightbclub bouncer, Ugochukwu Ojimba, also took the stand on Wednesday and testified that he did witness a scene between Hernandez and two men inside the club that caught his attention. Yet, he said, “Nothing came of it, so I moved on.” Ojimba also testified about what he saw when he pulled up on the shot up BMW, describing a similar scene as the other witnesses on Wednesday.
Testimony in the trial will resume Thursday with Ojimba expected to return to the stand and LawNewz will have live courtroom coverage and analysis of the action.
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[image via screengrab]