The jury in the double murder case against former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez got sent home early by the judge on Monday after the defense accused the prosecution of failing to turnover potentially exculpatory evidence. On Tuesday, it was the cameras that got the boot early after the judge thought the pool camera may have caught the faces of several members of the jurors. Needless to say, things are definitely off to a rough start in the second week of the trial of the former football star who stands accused of the murdering Daniel de Abreu and Safir Furtado on July 16, 2012. The former New England Patriots player is already sentenced to life without the possibility of parole when he was convicted nearly two years ago in another murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.
Lead Prosecutor Pat Haggan says Hernandez was out on the town with a convicted cocaine dealer and they headed to the Cure nightclub when Hernandez was bumped by de Abreu and a drink spilled as a result of the physical contact. Abreu, according to prosectors, did not think much of the incident and did not apologize to Hernandez. Haggan said this was taken as a lack of respect by Hernandez, while most people wouldn’t have given it a second thought.
Haggan then says video surveillance outside a club shows Alexander Bradley, a one-time friend of Hernandez’s, pleading with the NFL star to calm down. After spending several hours at more clubs, Haggan says Hernandez retrieved a gun from a secret compartment in his vehicle and began circling the area, essentially hunting de Abreu and his crew. Unfortunately for de Abreu, prosecutors allege Hernandez located him, running a red light in the process to pull up besides de Abreu’s vehicle. He then allegedly called the man’s name.
Bradley is then expected to testify that Hernandez pulled up and said, “Yo, what’s up now?” Bradley is then expected to accuse Hernandez of shouting a racial slur before leaning across the driver’s seat and firing five shots into de Abreau vehicle. In addition to killing de Abreu, Hernandez allegedly killed Furtado, a passenger in the car. A third passenger in the backseat was struck with two bullets, and then Hernandez’s gun allegedly ran out of ammo and he vanished off of down the Mass Turnpike.
Even with camera’s kicked out of the courtroom, the trial still continued and earlier in the day jurors saw graphic photographs of the victims bodies taken by police photographers. Relatives of the victims present in court began to cry when the pictures went up, but the judge reminded jurors to “remain dispassionate throughout” the presentation of evidence, despite the graphic photos.
In addition to the photos, jurors heard from two more witnesses, Brian Quon and Donald Gobin, both of whom had just left work at a bar near the shooting scene when they said they saw the shooter’s SUV. Quon claimed that the SUV driver looked directly at him and then sped off through the red light, toward the BMW. Quon told the jurors the next thing he heard was, “bam bam bam bam bam bam,” and recalled telling Gobin that he believed the noise “sounds like gunshots.”
Quon told jurors when he pulled up to the BMW, one of the victims was “just taking his last breath” as the SUV fled the scene at a high rate of speed.
Prosecutor Haggan went over Quon’s police interview and discussed with jurors how he said he could not “really see the face” of the passenger in the SUV.
However, on cross-examination, defense attorney Ronald Sullivan drew jurors attention to a previous statements Quon gave police that described the SUV passenger as possibly a thin, black woman with braids or cornrows. Sullivan also played jurors the 911-call audio from Gobin where Quon was heard in the background claiming the passenger appeared to be “female.”
Testimony in the trial will resume Wednesday and the judge has expected to determine early in the day whether the camera will be allowed back in the courtroom.
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