Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez's lawyer James Sultan admitted to a grand jury his client actually witnessed a murder but added Hernandez "did not know what to do."
Aaron Hernandez's lawyer has admitted to a grand jury his client witnessed a murder.
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Attorney James Sultan made the admission during a hearing at Bristol (Mass.) Superior Court which was presided by Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh on April 7. He added Hernandez "did not know what to do," per ESPN. A 12-person jury deliberated for more than an hour after the closing arguments.
According to ESPN, the jury is expected to reconvene on April 9 and try to determine if Hernandez is guilty or not of killing former semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd in June 2013.
A jogger discovered Lloyd's bullet-riddled body in a Massachusetts industrial park near Hernandez's home on June 17, 2013. At the time, the Patriots had Hernandez locked up to a $40 million deal, per ESPN.
Sultan told the jury Hernandez witnessed the murder, but said it was "committed by someone he knew," per ESPN:
"Did he make all the right decisions? No. He was a 23-year-old kid who witnessed something, a shocking killing, committed by someone he knew. He didn't know what to do, so he just put one foot in front of the other."
Under Massachusetts state law, "an individual(s) can be convicted of a joint venture murder if they were present and knowingly assisted in a deliberate killing," per The Boston Herald's Nik DeCosta-Klipa.
With this, DeCosta-Klipa adds Hernandez did not have to pull the trigger in order for the jury to deem him guilty. If he took part with knowing intent, then that would be enough to convict him.
Sultan claims Hernandez's co-defendants, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, were the murderers. Both of them have pleaded not guilty, per ESPN.
However, prosecuting attorney William McCauley believes Hernandez was involved, citing evidence he was able to rent a car for Wallace and gave his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, instructions to give Wallace and Ortiz $500 to get away. McCauley also identified surveillance video which reveals Hernandez having a discussion with the two men hours after Lloyd's murder, per ESPN.
McCauley requested the jury to carefully consider all the evidence, the ESPN update goes on to say:
"He's laying around the pool, soaking up the sun, drinking up smoothies with his two confederates.
"If you do that (go through the evidence), you'll go to where you need to go, which is to find the defendant guilty for the murder of Odin Lloyd."
Sultan rose to his client's defense, claiming McCauley and his camp never presented a clear motive as to why Hernandez would ever wanted Lloyd, his future brother-in-law, killed. At the time of the murder, Lloyd had been dating Jenkins' younger sister. Sultan also labeled the investigation of the Hernandez case as "biased," per ESPN:
"You didn't hear it (clear motive) because it doesn't exist. Does the prosecution expect you to fill that gaping hole in its case with guesswork, speculation?
"The investigation done in this case was incomplete, biased and inept. That was not fair to Odin Lloyd, that was not fair to Aaron Hernandez, and it was not fair to you. All that effort and this is all they could come up with. What does that tell you?"
DeCosta-Klipa says the jury will deliberate from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day until it has reached a verdict.
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