Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end who was charged with murder in the June 2013 shooting death of acquaintance Odin Lloyd, was found guilty of first-degree murder Wednesday.
Extreme cruelty in the case
Prosecutors said Hernandez and two friends drove Lloyd to an industrial park near Hernandez’s North Attleborough home and shot him to death, execution-style. According to The Guardian, Hernandez now faces life in prison, a spectacular fall from grace for a player who had a $40 million contract with the Patriots but was cut by the team within hours of his arrest.
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According to a number of Twitter posts and multiple media outlets, the extreme cruelty of the crime is the reason for the first-degree charge. The former NFL player now faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. Jury deliberations went on for approximately 35 hours after they received the case last week, according to The Washington Post.
Defense: Hernandez wasn’t the gunman
Last week defense attorneys tried to convince jurors that while Hernandez was present for the killing of Lloyd, he wasn’t the shooter, which was what prosecutors claimed.
Aaron Hernandez’s attorneys said the jury should find him not guilty because he was being tried as the gunman rather than as an accomplice. Additionally, the defense stated that there were no eyewitnesses to the crime and suggested that there wasn’t enough hard evidence to convict him of the murder.
His attorneys also said officials focused on Hernandez because of his celebrity status.
Prosecutors focused on Hernandez
According to the Associated Press, police believed Aaron Hernandez was the shooter because Lloyd had the key to Hernandez’s rental car in his pocket. Prosecutors showed security video from the former football player’s home, testimony from witnesses and records of Lloyd’s mobile phone that tracked his movements.
Prosecutors suggested Lloyd was killed because he might have known too much about a deadly drive-by shooting that happened in Boston in 2012. Hernandez was accused of having been involved in that shooting.
However, prosecutors were not allowed to include the argument in their case because the judge ruled it as speculation. The ex-New England Patriot also faces murder charges in that drive-by shooting. In that case, he has been accused of shooting and killing two men because of a spilled drink at a nightclub.
Because they couldn’t make that argument, they did not give the jury a clear motive. They merely said it appeared as if Hernandez was angry when meeting up with Lloyd at a nightclub two days before his death. They also accused Hernandez of planning the killing and calling on two of his friends to help him do it.