^ Aaron Hernandez in court with his lead lawyer, Michael K. Fee
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Now that the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial is underway, it is time to think carefully about the next high-profile, Massachusetts murder trial, set to begin soon enough down in Bristol County : that of Aaron Hernandez.
Unlike The Tsarnaev trial, the Hernandez process will be no slam dunk. Serious questions of motive stand unanswered. The time line of events doesn’t help. It’s difficult to grasp what happened in that car in which Odin Lloyd rode in company with Hernandez and his two imported sidekicks. As I see it, the decision to kill Lloyd happened during the ride, not before . If it was Hernandez who actually did the killing.
As best I can time-line what happened, here it is :
1.Hernandez learnede that Lloyd had talked to a club security man about the deaths, the prior year,of Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado — deaths that Hernandez is also now accused of.
2.A few days after that occurred, Hernandez asked two friends to come up to Boston and ride with him as he picked up Lloyd at Lloyd’s house late that night.
3.Lloyd evidently feared no harm, as he came out of his house and joined the three men.
4.No one in that car took Lloyd’s cell phone away. He was free to text right up to just before the shooting. The inference is that, during the ride, Lloyd was a friend.
5.Lloyd’s discussion with the club security man was talked about. One man in the car has said that Lloyd and Hernandez straightened it out right there and that, evidently, all was good. (And why shouldn’t it have been? Lloyd was dating the sister of Herandez’s fiancee. He was almost family.)
6.One senses that Hernandez had asked his friends to join him and Lloyd as a kind of jury, to listen to the two men discuss the club matter and to weigh in if needed. As for killing Lloyd, it would be quite foolish to kill a man with two witnesses present.
7.Lloyd texted his sister that “I’m with NFL…just so you know.” The words might suggest that he now feared his life — but also implies only that Lloyd wanted to put his sister at ease about why he was off riding around with three men so late at night. (The text’s many possibly interpretations is good enough reason why Judge Gersh has excluded it from trial presentation.)
8.The four men rode aound for an hour. As the Attleboro industrial park where Lloyd was evidently killed is much closer than that to his house, clearly the long ride was long because of the discussion about the club matter.
9.They arrive at the industrial park. Lloyd is soon thereafter shot — outside the car. Why did Lloyd leave the car at all ? Was he forced outside ? What happened during the last part of that ride to change the outcome ? Or did nothing happen, except that Lloyd recognized the industrial park as a place of no good and, afraid now, he bolted out of the car on his own — he had a door seat, so why not ? — seeking safety, at which point Heranndez or his accomplices chased him down. Lloyd was shot in the back.
10.Which man actually killed Lloyd ? The murder gun has not been fiound. Whose fingerprints are on it ?
11.Lastly : did Lloyd escape the three men and was shot by somebody else ? It may seem unlikely, but it is not beyond possibility.
These questions leave plenty of room for Hernandez’s defense to cast doubt upon the prosecution’s case. Much depends upon what the two accomplices testify to and whether either man can be believed. Yet even if their testimony proves unhelpful, much doubt arises from the facts themelves. If the murder gun could be found, at least the killer’s identity would likely be established. Lacking the gun, presented with such a makes-no-sense fact line, and facing a team of superb lawyers well prepared for the defense, the Hernandez prosecutors can’t take their job lightly. At this stage, an acquittal is a distinct possibility.
Granted, that Hernandez’s pose have done him no favors in the court of public opinion by clamming up, by seeming to abet his evasions, by acting out street codes of screw-the-cops. Yet none of that will play out in court, where evidence, not the mindsets of Hernandez’s unhelpful friends, will decide the verdict.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere