By Scott Malone
BOSTON (Reuters) – The double murder trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez ended on Thursday with the prosecution and his defense attorneys locking horns over whether he had argued with, or even noticed, the men he is charged with gunning down outside a nightclub.
Prosecutors contend Hernandez hunted down Cape Verdean nationals Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado and shot them dead after flying into a rage because one of them had inadvertently spilled a drink on him while partying at a Boston club in July 2012.
Their star witness, convicted drug dealer Alexander Bradley, testified that he left the club with Hernandez and was sitting next to him in a car when he yelled to get the men’s attention and then shot them dead.
Defense attorney Jose Baez disputed that claim, noting that no video evidence had been presented showing Hernandez interacting with the men during the 9 minutes he spent in the club and that he does not appear wet in surveillance video taken outside.
“It’s an absolute lie,” Baez said. He repeatedly emphasized that Bradley had been given immunity to testify and said that Bradley, not Hernandez, may have been the gunman.
Assistant District Attorney Patrick Haggan stuck by Bradley’s testimony and showed video from outside the club that depicted Bradley gesturing to Hernandez in a way he said backed up the man’s testimony that he was trying to calm his angry friend.
“We’re not asking you to speculate,” Haggan told the jury. “Alexander Bradley told you what’s being said, he told you that he told him, ‘Listen, you’re a professional athlete, you have to stop getting so mad at things, people aren’t trying to test you.'”
Hernandez was convicted in 2015 of fatally shooting an acquaintance, Odin Lloyd, in an industrial park near his North Attleboro, Massachusetts, home two years earlier. He is serving a life prison term for that murder.
Bradley said Hernandez shot him in the face while the two were on a 2013 trip to Florida after Bradley mentioned the Boston shooting. Bradley, who lost an eye in that incident, initially denied knowing who had fired at him but later identified Hernandez as the alleged shooter in a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages.
Hernandez, 27, is charged with witness intimidation for that alleged shooting. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The additional murder charges also carry potential life sentences.
(Editing by W Simon and Matthew Lewis)