A judge has once again sided with the prosecution in another pretrial decision that does not bode well for former NFL player and double murder suspect Aaron Hernandez.
Jurors will not view video footage of an encounter Hernandez allegedly had with one of the murder victims at a Boston nightclub — footage that his defense team says has the potential to exonerate him. Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end who is already serving a life sentence for another murder, is accused of killing Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in July 2012, the same night he allegedly encountered one of them at the Cure nightclub.
It is unclear why the suspect’s attorneys believe footage of the video will help clear their client, as prosecutors have said it shows an encounter between Hernandez and one of the victims — who reportedly bumped into him and spilled his drink — they claim gave Hernandez a motive to murder.
But the alleged encounter will not be seen by jurors — because club security says no video exists. And Jose Baez, who is leading Hernandez’s legal team, says that in itself is a problem, as he suspects investigators did not ask for interior video of the July 2012 incident until late in the investigation– after the footage was erased. The decision came just a day after the trial judge granted the prosecution permission to introduce potentially incriminating cell phone evidence to the jury.
“I think [the video] is critical. It’s step one in the case,” Baez reportedly said during a hearing in Suffolk Superior Court Thursday. “Without step one, it may change the complete complexion of this case.” Prosecutors have argued that there is no evidence any video footage even existed in the first place: Suffolk First Assistant District Attorney Patrick M. Haggan said the club was having problems with its recording system at the time of the incident.
In another defeat for the defense team, Judge Jeffrey Locke denied their request to push back the trial, which is set to begin on February 13. “It is by far the most unprepared I have been in a courtroom in any case across this entire country,” Baez reportedly said on Thursday. Locke was unmoved.
Earlier this week, Judge Locke ruled that jurors would be permitted to view text messages between Hernandez and a former friend, Alexander Bradley, who Hernandez is accused of shooting because Bradley was a witness to the alleged murders of de Abreu and Furtado. Hernandez is expected to testify for the prosecution.
And last week, the judge ruled that the prosecution could introduce Hernandez’s tattoos as evidence in the murder trial. The prosecution has argued that some of Hernandez’s body art includes specific references to both the July 2012 double murder and Bradley’s alleged shooting.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and witness intimidation.
Photo: Associated Press