Video shows ex-NFLer preparing before 2013 murder, prosecutors say – Reuters
FALL RIVER, Mass. (Reuters) – Security footage shows former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez and two friends in a flurry of preparation hours before the death of an acquaintance he is charged with murdering, prosecutors said on Thursday as they opened their case against the one-time NFL star.
But attorneys for the 25-year-old former tight end attacked prosecutors’ case, saying their client had been targeted because of his fame and contending it is unclear what the videos depict occurring days before Hernandez was arrested and charged with the execution-style killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd in June 2013.
The trial at Massachusetts Superior Court in Fall River is the first of two murder trials Hernandez will face this year. He is also charged with fatally shooting two men outside a Boston nightclub in 2012.
Prosecutors said security video from the dozen cameras in Hernandez’ home show the player arriving with a gun hours before going to pick up Lloyd in Boston, and later depict Hernandez and friends Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace carrying items from the basement to the trunk of a rental car.
“The cameras in the basement that night weren’t recording,” Assistant District Attorney Patrick Bomberg said, showing the jury clips from the video, including one of Hernandez standing in his living room with what he described as a pistol hours after the time of Lloyd’s death. The pistol is similar to the one used to kill Lloyd, prosecutors contend.
Defense attorney Michael Fee told the jury it was not clear what the video depicted.
“You will decide in the various scenes that we will show … what’s really in Aaron’s hand. Whether it is an iPod or an iPhone or an iPad or a BlackBerry or a TV remote or a gun or something else,” Fee said.
He also suggested that the fact that Hernandez did not destroy the video indicated that he had nothing to hide.
“If Aaron Hernandez wanted to destroy the recordings on that video system, he could have,” Fee said. “He did not because he had no reason to.”
The trial, expected to run six to 10 weeks, begins days before the Patriots, who dropped Hernandez hours after his arrest, are to face the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
Prosecutors contend that Hernandez, Ortiz and Wallace picked Lloyd up at his Boston home in the predawn hours of June 17, 2013, and drove him to an industrial park near his North Attleborough home where his bullet-riddled body was found later that day.
“They drove to a secluded, isolated area in North Attleborough, a town where Odin Lloyd knew no one but the defendant and there Odin Lloyd was shot six times,” Bomberg said.
A marijuana cigarette found near Lloyd’s body contained traces of both his DNA and that of Hernandez, potentially placing both at the scene, Bomberg said.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to all charges, which include illegal firearms possession as well as murder, and investigators have not recovered the gun they contend was used to murder Lloyd.
Lloyd, 27, had been dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, who was present in court as was his mother, Terri Hernandez. Prosecutors contend he and Hernandez argued after Lloyd socialized at a nightclub with people Hernandez disliked.
Fee countered that Hernandez had no motive to kill Lloyd, his friend and marijuana supplier.
“Why would Aaron Hernandez do this? In June of 2013, Aaron Hernandez had the world at his fingertips,” with an NFL contract, a new home and a fiancée, Fee said. “Aaron Hernandez was planning a future, not a murder.”
Wallace and Ortiz were also charged in connection with Lloyd’s slaying and will be tried separately.
Members of Lloyd’s family were also present in court, sitting quietly in the front row and weeping as the surveillance video was shown.