The long-awaited murder trial of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez began this morning in Fall River Superior Court with the opening statements of the prosecutor and the defense attorney.
Hernandez has been charged with first-degree murder and firearms offenses related to the shooting death of his one-time friend Odin Lloyd.
The prosecutor told the jury that the evening before Lloyd’s murder, the defendant went out to dinner with his fiance. The defendant also sent text messages to two friends in Connecticut asking them to come to Massachusetts. After the defendant finished dinner, he and his two friends from Connecticut left in a rental car to pick up Lloyd in Boston. The defendant was driving when Lloyd got into the car after 2 a.m. The men began driving out of the city and surveillance video and cell phone records were able to track the location of the rental car as it traveled back toward Hernandez’s home in North Attleboro. The prosecutor said the defendant drove to a secluded, isolated industrial park and Lloyd was shot six times and left to die. The victim had his wallet, his cell phone, and approximately $64 on his body at the time of his death.
At approximately 3:27 a.m., surveillance cameras at Hernandez’s home recorded Hernandez and his two Connecticut friends returning. They got out of the rental car, which was missing its side view mirror, and quickly went into the house. According to the prosecutor, surveillance cameras from inside the house showed Hernandez carrying a gun later in the evening. The prosecutor alleged that Hernandez had orchestrated Lloyd’s killing and had then orchestrated a coverup.
The defense attorney forcefully asserted that Hernandez is innocent and did not murder Lloyd, who the attorney repeatedly referred to as “Aaron’s friend.” Instead, the police and prosecutors targeted Hernandez from the beginning of their investigation, which, according to the defense attorney, was “sloppy” and “unprofessional.” Any evidence that was favorable to Hernandez was either ignored or twisted by the authorities. The defense attorney told the jury that Hernandez regularly rented cars (and often loaned them to friends) and it was not unusual for him to be in a rental car on the evening of Lloyd’s murder. Further, the photographs allegedly showing Hernandez holding a gun in his house might actually show Hernandez holding an electronic device.
Finally, the defense attorney told the jury that Hernandez had installed the security system at his home and had the knowledge and experience to erase the tapes and disable the video if he had wanted to do so. However, despite having access to the security system in the two days following Lloyd’s murder, Hernandez did not destroy the surveillance footage.
Opening statements had been delayed by a couple of hours after one of the jurors failed to appear on time. Multiple news outlets reported that the trial judge interviewed additional potential jurors before the attorneys gave their opening statements. The trial is expected to last for a couple of months. If Hernandez is convicted of first-degree murder, he will face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.