New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft testified as a prosecution witness in Aaron Hernandez’s murder trial today in Fall River Superior Court as the Commonwealth winds down its case.
Hernandez is charged with first-degree murder and related gun offenses for his alleged participation in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who had been dating Hernandez’s fiance’s sister. There has been speculation that Hernandez shared details of his prior criminal conduct with Lloyd, and then killed him to ensure his silence. Lloyd’s bullet-riddled body was found in an industrial park near Hernandez’s North Attleboro mansion in 2013.
For most of us accustomed to seeing Kraft sitting in his owner’s box at Gillette Stadium or celebrating on the football field after a win, it was fascinating to watch him testify at a murder trial. Multiple media outlets, including the Boston Globe, reported that two days after the murder, Kraft questioned Hernandez about his alleged involvement as Hernandez was speaking with coaches in Gillette Stadium’s weight room. During the brief conversation, Hernandez looked Kraft in the eyes and said he was not involved in the case and that he was innocent. Hernandez further said that he hoped the time of the killing was released, because he was at a club when it happened. This testimony might damage Hernandez, because the obvious question is how Hernandez would have known what time Lloyd was shot, unless he was involved. Kraft also told the jury that any player on his team is part of his extended family and he would have wanted to get Hernandez help.
Later in the day, Patriots security director Mark Briggs testified that he asked Hernandez if he was involved in the murder, and Hernandez “swore on his baby’s life” that he was not. Hernandez told Briggs that he had been at a nightclub with Lloyd but they had gone their separate ways at the end of the night.
Today’s developments come on the heels of the testimony of Hernandez’s fiance, which finished yesterday. Despite testifying for hours over the course of two days, she largely stayed on script and did not do considerable damage to Hernandez’s case. The Commonwealth was keenly interested in a box she was seen carrying out of the home the day after the murder (believed to possibly contain the murder weapon). She said Hernandez told her to get rid of the box, and it smelled like marijuana, but she did not know what was inside.
As the prosecution’s case winds down, it will be interesting to see if the defense offers any evidence. The Commonwealth has presented a solid case that Hernandez was with Lloyd around the time of the murder. Surveillance footage puts them together in the same car, and DNA evidence (contained on a marijuana joint) establishes that Hernandez was at some point present at the crime scene. However, mere presence at the scene of a crime is not enough to sustain a conviction. The jury has not heard many of the theories regarding motive that have been floated by the media. There were two other men with Hernandez who could have killed Lloyd without Hernandez’s involvement. But if the jurors believe that surveillance from Hernandez’s home show him carrying a gun around the time Lloyd was killed, they may consider that to be powerful evidence.
After this case is finished, Hernandez will face trial for a double murder that occurred in Boston in 2012. He has denied guilt in both of his cases.