The trial of Aaron Hernandez, former New England Patriots player before he was charged with the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, has a link to the Super Bowl. Judge Susan Garsh has ruled that the jury may watch the Super Bowl. And some may think that whether jurors should be able to watch the Super Bowl seems irrelevant to the Hernandez trial. The trial began on Thursday in Boston. While it appears the Super Bowl would have no relationship with the trial, the jurors in any trial are always advised to refrain from watching TV accounts of the trial as well as looking on social media. And Hernandez played in Super Bowl XLVI for the Patriots as a key player. So it is perhaps likely that the mention of his name and the trial may occur during the Super Bowl on Sunday. The judge has further advised jurors that if they hear Hernandez’s name mentioned that they must either leave the room or refrain from watching any mention of him. Yes—the law has its funnier moments at times. But on Monday, following the Super Bowl, jurors will be asked if there were any references to Hernandez—however irrelevant those references may appear.
The murder case against Hernandez is a circumstantial one. The prosecution alleges that Hernandez, once worth $40 million while playing with the Patriots, drove the victim to a an area and shot him six times. Evidence left at the scene such as a marijuana butt and on a .45 caliber shell casing tested positive for DNA of Hernandez. The prosecution also alleges foot prints at the site of the murder match shoes belonging to Hernandez. And although motive is never an element in any criminal case, the prosecution does not have a motive for why Hernandez would kill Lloyd who was an acquaintance or friend. Hernandez has pled not guilty and earlier told Patriots owner Bob Kraft and also coach Bill Belichick that he was not involved. The prosecution was dealt a blow to their case when Judge Garsh denied the use of a text from the victim which stated shortly before his death that he was with “nfl”—implying Hernandez. The prosecution contends that Hernandez sent a text message to Lloyd before the murder. The DNA evidence is what jurors hear from TV shows but TV shows always strongly tie in the circumstantial evidence to the defendant.
The prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. And any circumstantial case is always fraught with problems for the prosecution. And a celebrity defendant presents further problems for the prosecution. But Boston area juries are thought to be more conservative than most might think. But deciding on whether a NFL player worth and making millions would commit murder will be in the minds of the jurors hearing the case. NFL players have been involved in serious cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault, assaults, child abuse and obstruction of justice charges stemming from a murder. And of course, former NFL player O.J. Simpson, now serving time on robbery charges, was tried and acquitted in the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson. Simpson’s case in the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson was also a circumstantial case. It is one thing having a gut feeling that someone committed a crime and another to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. And in the case of Hernandez, the prosecution has an uphill battle without indirectly giving the jurors a reasonable motive—other than Hernandez appeared angry when he left a night club where Lloyd was present and evidence found at the scene. The most damaging for the defense is Hernandez’s prints on the .45 shell casing found near the victim. The murder location is one mile from Hernandez’s home. Whether that and other circumstantial evidence will be enough to convict Hernandez is the real issue.
The trial is expected to last two months.