Aaron Hernandez, former New England Patriots tight end, was handed a sentence of life in prison without parole for the first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd, his fiancee’s sister’s boyfriend. As Judge Napolitano read the verdict, Terri, mother to the 25-year-old former Pro-Bowler, and fiancee Shayanna Jenkins wept in shock.
On June 17, 2013, it was reported that the 27-year-old Lloyd, who at the time of the murder was dating Jenkin’s sister, had been shot six times in an industrial park in North Attleborough. The evidence produced included cell phone records and witnesses to prove that the former Patriots All-Star was with him at the time of the incident. Also present at the time were Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, two of Hernandez’s friends. Security videos at the former New England Patriot’s home revealed that the three of them had returned home ten minutes after the shooting and were seen enjoying themselves in the basement and pool with the football player’s baby daughter.
It was suggested by the prosecution that Hernandez’s motive for killing Lloyd was the fact that he was privy to his involvement in a 2012 drive-by shooting and double murder in Boston. The two victims of this shooting, Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, were at a nightclub when they first encountered the defendant. It was alleged that de Abreu had unintentionally knocked over Hernandez’s drink, causing him to become angry. Security cameras outside showed him being calmed down by his friends before getting into his SUV to track down de Abreu. He spotted him getting into his car with his friends and followed them to where, at a red light, he fired shots into their car. A third man, who was also shot, survived.
The judge did not allow the prosecution to use Lloyd’s knowledge of the double murder in this case because it was still categorized as speculation. Hernandez, now handed a life sentence without parole, will stand trial separately for the previous incident at a later date. In addition, he may also face civil suits from the families of the murder victims. Alexander Bradley, a former friend of Hernandez, has also sued him for allegedly shooting him in the face after an argument in 2013 and leaving him for dead.
Hernandez was born and grew up in Bristol, Connecticut, where he was recruited by the University of Connecticut after starring on his high school team. During his sophomore year, he transferred to the University of Florida, where he became a starter for the Gators. After the 2009 BCS National Championship Game, in which his team defeated Oklahoma 24–14, Hernandez was titled first-team All-American. He was selected in his junior year by the New England Patriots in the NFL’s fourth round of drafting, however only a few days later, the football star was reported to have tested positive for several drugs.
Despite his career, Hernandez was making $10 million a year as a tight end for the New England Patriots. In his first year as a first-string player, he scored six touchdowns in 14 of 16 games. In his second season, he was named an alternate in the Pro Bowl and helped lead his team to the Super Bowl, where they were defeated by the New York Giants, to which they lost 21-17.
After his arrest for the shooting of Lloyd, for which he was handed a life sentence without parole, Hernandez was barred from playing professional football. Although it was not necessary to prove who fired the shots, Hernandez’s defense attorney, James Sultan, claimed that the shooting itself was carried out by Wallace and Ortiz, arguing that the player, 23 at the time, did not “know what to do.” The prosecution, however, upheld the verdict, stating that Hernandez had planned the murder. His two friends will stand trial at a later time.
By Bill Ades