by Brennah Dallaire
Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, was acquitted of first degree murder charges on Friday, in the killings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. While Hernandez’ attorneys work on a case for appeal of his 2015 conviction, speculation about his future circulate.
Abreu, 29, and Furtado, 28, were gunned down outside of the Boston nightclub, Cure. The shooting was in response to a supposed altercation inside the nightclub after Abreu bumped into Hernandez on the dance floor, spilling his drink.
The prosecutor’s explained that Hernandez and friend Alexander Bradley left the club, followed the victims by car, pulled up next to them at a stop light and opened fire on Abreu, Furtado and three other men. One other man in the vehicle sustained an injury but survived.
After making an immunity deal with the Suffolk District Attorneys Office, Bradley went on to testify that Hernandez had in fact shot and killed the victims. Bradley is serving time in prison in Connecticut for involvement in a Hartford nightclub shooting. Bradley believes Hernandez is involved in a shooting in Miami in 2013, that left Bradley blind in one eye.
However, jurors found that the burden of proof was not met. Hernandez was found not guilty on the first degree murder charge, but was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm.
Judge Jeffrey Locke sentenced him to four to five years in prison on top of his life sentence without parole, at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center for the murder of Odin Lloyd in 2013.
Surveillance video and texts messaged show Hernandez and two friends pick Lloyd up from his home the night of his murder. Texts messages between Lloyd and his sister showed Lloyd wanted her to know who he was with referring to Hernandez as “nfl.” Other surveillance footage from that night show Hernandez with a gun at his North Attleboro, Massachusetts home. Lloyd was shot and killed in an industrial park a half mile away from Hernandez’ home.
Hernandez’s attorneys felt that they have a strong case for appeal. Hernandez’s defense attorney, Jose Baez told ESPN “I wish he’d called me [for the first trial].”
“I think there are plenty of flaws in that (Lloyd) conviction. If they are exposed properly, he certainly can and should get a new trial,” Baez said.
Not all parties are happy to hear that Hernandez may have a shot at getting out of prison. Although he was found not guilty on the most recent murder charges, the families of the victims found comfort in the verdict knowing that Hernandez would stay in prison.
“At least he’s not walking out the door today,” is what Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley told ESPN family members of the victims said.
The appeals process can take years. Hernandez’s defense team would have to prove that Judge Susan Garsh made mistakes in the Odin Loyd case, that impacted his receipt of a fair trial.
According to Sports Illustrated, those injustices could not adequately explain to the jury the definition of extreme atrocity and cruelty in the first degree murder convictions. The jury came to the conclusion that the murder was not premeditated, but was of a cruel nature warranting first degree murder.
There is a possibility that the court will hear his appeal in the Lloyd murder case. However, Hernandez would still serve four to five years for the unlawful possession of firearms conviction; unless this charge is appealed and vacated as well.
Retired NFL Hall of Fame player Cris Carter, told TMZ Sports that he does not think Hernandez will ever play in the NFL again, even with a successful appeal.
“I doubt he would ever play again in the NFL…if he was in any other industry besides the rap industry he wouldn’t be able to get work,” said Carter.
In 2013, the Patriots released Hernandez less than two hours after his arrest. The team quickly distanced themselves from the investigation and Hernandez who had no previous behavioral or criminal issues.
A prison record doesn’t necessarily mean athletes can’t return to play in professional sports. Michael Vick served 18 months in prison after being convicted of conspiracy to operate a dog fighting ring.
Shortly after, Vick was reinstated to the NFL and began playing with the Philadelphia Eagles, then went on to play for the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers before retiring.