Former New England Patriots Tight End Aaron Hernandez is set to face a double murder trial this week, with opening statements expected to begin Wednesday. The star NFL player with a bright future and freshly signed $40 million contract will almost certainly never get to play football again after he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole when he was convicted nearly two years ago in another murder involving the killing of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.
The double murder case is thought by most legal experts to be the easier of the two cases, though conviction is not a certainty. The lack of forensic evidence tying Hernandez to the murders as well as the length of time between the killings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado could prove troubling for prosecutors.
Nonetheless, here is what prosecutors are expected to tell jurors happened on July 15, 2012.
Hernandez was out on the town with a convicted cocaine dealer and they headed to the Cure nightclub when Hernandez was physically bumped by de Abreu and a drink spilled in the process. de Abreu assuming thought little that of the incident and allegedly do not apologize. This was taken as a ,lack of respect and one witness is quoted as hearing Hernandez suggest Abreu was “trying him.”
After going to several more clubs, prosecutors will say Hernandez retrieved a gun from a secret compartment in his vehicle and began circling the club area, essentially hunting Abreu and his crew. Unfortunately for Abreu, police believe Hernandez located him, running a red light in the process to pull up besides Abreu’s car.
Prosecutors will allege Hernandez opened fire and killed Abreu and his passenger, Furtado. All over a spilled drink. Another passenger in the backseat was also struck wth two bullets, but survived. Hernandez allegedly continued attempting to fire after the magazine ran out of bullets and then took off onto the Mass turnpike, leaving behind almost nothing for investigators to go on. Most thought it was simply random gang violence. Little did they know the case would eventually break open.
The break came when Hernandez was named in the Lloyd murder because the car used in the Lloyd killing matched surveillance video and witness statements of the getaway car in the double murder years earlier. Investigators obtained a warrant and found a silver 4Runner on a property connected to Hernandez. That connection, along with Bradley turning in states evidence, proved to be Hernandez’s ultimate downfall, according to investigators. Though he has significant baggage as a witness given his criminal past and the fact he is serving time for his own shooting of a nightclub. He also has personal motivation to testify against Hernandez because in 2013, Hernandez allegedly shot Bradley’s eye out during an argument about a bar tab.
Hernandez will be represented by Jose Baez, the attorney made famous (or infamous depending on your perspective) for getting Casey Anthony acquitted. He is expected to hammer hard on the lack of motive for a superstar athlete worth millions to randomly murder two people over a spilled drink. However, motive is not an element of murder that prosecutors must prove. He may also reportedly point to Bradley as the shooter in the 2012 killings.
Perhaps most amazing in all of this, Hernandez played 10 games in the NFL season after the 2012 murders, catching 5 touchdowns. How he managed to lead this apparent double life is a question we may never know.
Editor’s Note, An earlier version incorrectly claimed Hernandez bumped de Abreu before the shooting.
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