A jury in Fall River, Massachusetts found former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez guilty of first-degree murder this morning.
The former All American and national champion at the University of Florida reportedly “pursed his lips” and mouthed “you’re wrong” upon hearing “guilty.” Guards removed the catcher of 18 regular season touchdowns in the National Football League in cuffs and shackles.
The conviction carries with it an automatic life sentence in death-penalty-free Massachusetts. The jury, which deliberated for a week, also found the former New England Patriots tight end guilty of various weapons charges.
The case stemmed from the June 17, 2013 murder of Hernandez friend Odin Lloyd in an industrial park about a mile from the murderer’s home. Home surveillance showing the defendant with a Glock the night of the murder, Hernandez’s DNA found on a joint and on a piece of gum at the scene of the crime, and the player’s fiancee testifying that her beau instructed her to mysteriously dispose of a heavy box all likely contributed to the guilty finding.
Judge E. Susan Garsh did not make the prosecution’s case easy. Testimony regarding Hernandez allegedly shooting another friend in the face, the final text messages from the victim, and .45 caliber bullets found in Hernandez’s car and home didn’t make their way to the jury. The jury also remained ignorant of the likely motive, which appeared to be a cover up of a previous double murder, because that case remains untried.
Hernandez’s two alleged accomplices, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, await trial for the murder. Hernandez also faces a second murder trial. The state also alleges that Hernandez murdered two immigrants outside of a Boston night club the summer before he killed Lloyd. So, a second Aaron Hernandez trial likely becomes fodder for daytime cable news and nightly sports highlights shows next year.
Hernandez’s hard fall came about 16 months after catching a Tom Brady touchdown pass in the Super Bowl and less than a year after signing a $40 million contract. He once played as the youngest man in the NFL. Decades from now he will probably die an old man behind bars. MCI-Cedar Junction, the new home for the disgraced Patriot, sits a little more than a mile away from Gillette Stadium. But Hernandez’s residence in the next town might as well sit a million miles away.