Aaron Hernandez, the former star NFL tight end for the New England Patriots, is accused of shooting and killing his one-time friend Odin Lloyd in the early morning hours of June 17 in an industrial park in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. The murder investigation has brought to light a lengthy and troubling history of guns, gangs, and violence for the sports star from Bristol, Connecticut, which is also the home of ESPN. Hernandez was arrested along with two other men in connection with Lloyd’s death and he faces first-degree murder charges.
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Aaron Hernandez is currently charged with first-degree murder and five firearms-related charges in the shooting death of 27-year old semi-pro athlete Odin Lloyd. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The State of Massachusetts does not have the death penalty. Hernandez is currently being held without bail.
Ernest Wallace is currently charged with being an accessory after the fact to the murder of Odin Lloyd and is being held without bail.
Carlos Ortiz is currently charged with illegal possession of a firearm and is currently being held without bail.
The body of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd was found in an industrial park on June 17, 2013. In life, Lloyd was a strong, tough guy, a semipro linebacker for the Boston Bandits who was known around his neighborhood as the guy who worked out in the park. He was not the kind of guy you thought could go down in a fight. Yet there he was, abandoned near a warehouse with bullet holes puncturing his arm, chest, back, side and groin. A tragedy: a young man struck down in his prime.
The search for a killer was brief and intense, sweeping the city of Boston and its prized football team. Lloyd was found about a mile from a wealthy suburb where many Patriots players own mansions. Everyone knew Lloyd was friends with guys on the Patriots. One name kept coming up – Aaron Hernandez, the Pats’ famed tight end.
The investigation showed that Hernandez and Lloyd had been in touch hours before Lloyd was killed. Keys from a car allegedly rented by Hernandez appeared in Lloyd’s pocket. Hernandez intentionally destroyed his home security system and hired house cleaners to scour his home, police alleged. Law enforcement believed that Lloyd had given Hernandez a reason to believe he had betrayed his trust, and Hernandez responded with street justice.
It was enough to send the Boston police to Hernandez’s North Attleborough mansion looking for more. The day after Lloyd’s body was discovered, police searched Hernandez’s home from top to bottom.
It would still be more than a week until Hernandez was arrested, however. In that time, Hernandez lost many of his lucrative endorsements and was the subject of endless media speculation. Finally, an arrest warrant issued. A mere 90 minutes after Hernandez’s arrest, the New England Patriots – without even knowing the charges yet – released Hernandez from his contract.
A few hours after Hernandez was handcuffed and taken from his home, prosecutors confirmed that Hernandez was charged with orchestrating the first degree murder of Odin Lloyd. He was also charged with various firearms violations.
If convicted, Hernandez will face life in prison. Massachusetts has outlawed the death penalty.
The investigation did not stop with Hernandez’s arrest. While Hernandez has been in custody, police discovered a secret apartment Hernandez was renting and searched it, finding ammunition and clothing they believe will ensure a conviction. They found text messages between Hernandez and his alleged accomplices, asking “we still on?”
As troubling as Hernandez’s involvement in Odin Lloyd’s death is, perhaps even more so is the information that this is not Hernandez’s first brush with this kind of violence. Police have uncovered evidence allegedly linking Hernandez to a 2012 drive by shooting and murder of two men in Boston’s South End neighborhood. A civil case was also filed against Hernandez claiming severe injuries following another shooting – this one in Miami in 2013.
There appears to be a pattern of vigilantism in Hernandez’s past which will make him a very unsympathetic defendant – particularly given all the success he has achieved through football.
Aaron Hernandez, 23: Former NFL tight end for the New England Patriots, charged with murder in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd on June 17, 2013. He is currently incarcerated in a Massachusetts jail awaiting trial. DOB: 11/6/89.
Odin Lloyd, 27: Murder victim allegedly shot by Aaron Hernandez on June 17, 2013. Lloyd was a semi-professional football player for the Boston Bandits. DOB: 11/14/85.
Carlos Ortiz, 27: Friend of Hernandez. Arrested in Bristol, CT on June 26, 2013 and charged in Connecticut with being a fugitive from justice. Allegedly, he was with Hernandez and Wallace the night Lloyd was killed.
Ernest Wallace, 41: One of two other men allegedly with Hernandez the night of the shooting. Wallace was arrested in Miramar, FL on June 28, 2013 and charged with Accessory to Murder After the Fact. He waived extradition from Florida to Massachusetts.
Shayanna Jenkins: Hernandez’s fiancée. Hernandez and she have a child under a year in age at the time of his arrest. They were all living together at 22 Ronald C. Meyer Drive in North Attleboro, MA. Shayanna and Hernandez reportedly have dated since high school. Shayanna spoke to police when she accompanied Hernandez to the police station on June 17, but Hernandez ordered her to stop talking.
Shaneah Jenkins: Girlfriend of Odin Lloyd and sister of Shayanna Jenkins. She told police that Lloyd and she had a long-distance relationship for just over a year at the time of his death. She testified Jan. 30, on the second day of trial, that Lloyd and Hernandez were in the “beginning stages of a friendship” and that would sometimes hang out and smoke pot together in Hernandez’ basement. Jenkins’s testimony may contradict statements made Jan. 29 during opening statements when Hernandez’ attorneys stated that the former NFL star and Lloyd were good friends.
Shaquilla Thibou: Sister of Odin Lloyd. They lived together at 10 Fayston Street in Boston. She first told police that she last saw her brother between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. on June 17 but later amended the time to 2:30-2:45 a.m.
Tanya Singleton Valderrama: Ernest Wallace’s girlfriend who lives in Bristol, CT. Singleton was with Wallace and Ortiz on Father’s Day (June 16) when the two men got the call to meet Hernandez. The next day, after the murder, Wallace and Ortiz returned to Bristol. Ortiz told police that Wallace discussed the murder with Singleton. She then used her credit card to buy a bus ticket for Wallace who left the area within days for Florida. He turned himself in to the Miramar, FL police on June 28, 2013.
Terri Hernandez:Terri Hernandez is Aaron Hernandez’s mother. She is a school secretary and no stranger to difficult times. In 2010, she was stabbed by the man she married after Aaron Hernandez’ father passed away. “I immediately noticed she had a large laceration on her right cheek, and she was holding a napkin to her left wrist,” the subsequent police report stated. “The napkin was filled with blood.”
Judge Susan Garsh: Bristol County Superior Court judge presiding over the Aaron Hernandez murder trial in Fall River, MA. Garsh has been a judge for more than 20 years after being appointed to the bench in 1993 by Republican Gov. Bill Weld. Prosecutors had asked Garsh to step aside from the case because they said she had an antagonistic relationship with prosecutor William McCauley. Garsh declined.
Michael Fee: Defense Attorney for Aaron Hernandez. He is a former federal prosecutor, an experienced litigator, and he recently joined the Boston branch of Latham & Watkins.
Charles Rankin: Defense Attorney for Aaron Hernandez.
James Sultan: Defense Attorney for Aaron Hernandez.
William McCauley: Assistant District Attorney. Prosecutors attempted to remove Judge Garsh from the case, citing tensions between her and McCauley that they said erupted during a 2010 murder trial. Garsh denied the motion and insisted she could remain unbiased in the case against the former New England Patriots player.“I am free of any disabling prejudice toward the Commonwealth,” Garsh said. “I do not fear or favor the Commonwealth or the defendant.’’ McCauley told Garsh that her prior rulings from the bench, her attitude toward him in front of jurors, and her unwarranted interruptions when he delivered his closing arguments in the 2010 trial showed she was “unnecessarily antagonistic” against the prosecution. The defendant in the 2010 case, George Duarte, 25, was convicted of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of teenager Edwin “Gio” Medina and sentenced to life in prison. He is appealing.
Roger Michel: Assistant District Attorney.
Patrick Bomberg: Assistant District Attorney. His wife works at same law firm that formerly employed Hernandez defense attorney Michael Fee, Ropes and Gray in Boston. Fee said his association with the prosecutor’s wife will not affect his ability to help represent Hernandez. A conflict of Interest hearing was held and Hernandez waived any potential conflict, deciding to retain Fee as his counsel.
John Connors: Defense Attorney for Carlos Ortiz.
John White: North Attleboro Fire Department captain John White testified Jan. 30, on the second day of trial, about discovering Lloyd’s dead body in an industrial park on June 17, 2013. A young jogger approached him initially about the body and directed him to the scene. The details provided were quite graphic, with Lloyd lying motionless on his back, face up. “He had no pulse. He was cold to the touch. He was very stiff. You couldn’t move his jaw, couldn’t move his arms.” The chilling testimony was quite graphic at times, and Lloyd’s mother at one point had to leave the courtroom.
Alexander S. Bradley: Described as a friend of Aaron Hernandez, Bradley filed a lawsuit in a Florida federal court alleging that Hernandez shot him in the face, causing him to lose his right eye, while the two were in a car after an altercation outside of a Miami strip club on February 13, 2013. Bradley initially told law enforcement at the scene that he did not know the identity of his assailant. The lawsuit was reportedly dismissed June 17, 2013 due to technical flaws in the filing paperwork and refilled on June 19, 2013.
John Alcorn, 21: Man from Bristol, Conn. who is related to the deceased husband of Hernandez’s cousin. In June, 2013, police seized an SUV with Rhode Island plates linked to a 2012 double-homicide from the cousin’s home. Alcorn was ordered to appear Thursday September 12 before a Massachusetts Grand Jury.
While some of the lawyers at Wild About Trial are huge football fans who’ve been following Hernandez’s career since his 2010 NFL draft, this writer is not one of them, so cut me a little slack when I ask: What is with this guy?
I mean, seriously. He was living the dream. Not just his own dream, but the dream of thousands of boys and girls, thousands of young men and women who spend every moment training and practicing and working their tails off to become professional athletes. And then this guy, who apparently takes for granted all of his life’s work, lets the thug get the better of him? Resorts to street violence to solve his problems? Come on, guy.
It’s hard to believe that a guy with everything in the world going for him would jeopardize his career, his salary, his endorsements, his fiancée, his child – for what? Revenge? Betrayal? Street justice? Is this the product of his fame gone wild, making him believe he was above the law? Is this what comes of growing up in a rough neighborhood? Or is Hernandez just a thug? What makes a guy who has everything act this way?
That is, assuming he’s guilty. And from a lawyer’s perspective, until the police released documents detailing Hernandez’s confession that he was the gunman in Lloyd’s murder, it seemed like the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement were relying on a lot of circumstantial evidence and not a lot of hard facts. But when Hernandez’s statements are introduced in a trial, he will be a hard guy to defend.
It’s looking like life in prison for the former football golden boy. You’ve got to stop and wonder what made him give all that up.