Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Odin Lloyd in 2013. The jury determined he had acted with "extreme atrocity and cruelty" and also found him guilty on two gun charges related to the case.
A first-degree murder sentence carries a life sentence without parole in Massachusetts.
Hernandez, 25, was indicted in August 2013 for the murder of Odin Lloyd and later indicted in May 2014 for a double homicide of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, which occurred in 2012. He pleaded not guilty to all three murder charges, in addition to two gun charges in the Odin Lloyd case.
The prosecution portrayed Hernandez as a calculating killer whose motive for the planned murder of his former friend, Lloyd, centered on perceived disrespect in a nightclub and because he knew too much about Hernandez's personal life.
On the night of the killing, Hernandez sent a text message to Lloyd, arranging for the two men to meet. They drove, along with Hernandez's friends Carlos Ortiz and Earnest Wallace, to a vacant field in North Attleborough, Mass., where Lloyd was shot multiple times. Hernandez's footprints and shell casings from a 9mm pistol were found at the scene where Lloyd was killed.
The prosecution argued that Hernandez put the murder weapon in a box and later had his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, dispose of it by throwing it in a dumpster the day after the murder. Jenkins testified that she did not know what was in the box when she disposed of it. She added that the box weighed approximately 40 pounds and claimed Hernandez told her it was "important" that she get rid of it.
Hernandez's defense claimed that the investigation was flawed from the beginning, with authorities conducting it as though Hernandez had already been presumed guilty. They portrayed Hernandez as a witness caught up in the events around Lloyd's death, questioning the prosecution's alleged motive and suggesting that Ortiz and Wallace were responsible for the killing while the two were high on PCP. During closing arguments, the defense stressed to the jury that the prosecution had not proven Hernandez's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The trial of Hernandez for the killing of Lloyd was held in Fall River, Mass. In addition to testimony from Jenkins, the trial featured testimony from Patriots owner Bob Kraft, who said that Hernandez reached out to him to explain his relationship with Lloyd and maintain his innocence. In total, more than 130 witnesses testified in the case.
A later trial for the double homicide of de Abreu and Furtado does not yet have a set date, but was delayed so Hernandez's lawyers could focus their attention on his trial for the first-degree murder of Lloyd. Ortiz and Wallace are also facing first-degree murder charges for Lloyd's death, but they have not yet gone to trial.
Hernandez was originally arrested in June 2013 and charged with first-degree murder among other charges. He was released by the Patriots on the same day as his arrest.
As the jury read the verdict, Hernandez reacted.
Hernandez looks at the jury and says "You're wrong."— Russillo (@ryenarussillo) April 15, 2015
Aaron just looked over at Shayanna and his mother and whispered: "it will be ok. Be strong."— Lindsey Adler (@Lahlahlindsey) April 15, 2015
In three seasons with the Patriots, Hernandez tallied 175 receptions for 1,956 yards with 18 touchdowns in addition to 35 receptions and two touchdowns in the postseason. He was a fourth-round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft after finishing as a first-team All-American with the Florida Gators and earning the 2009 John Mackey Award, which recognizes the nation's top collegiate tight end, in his junior season.