On Tuesday, jurors in the Aaron Hernandez trial were shown a .45 Glock shell casing that was recovered from a dumpster on the property of an Enterprise Rent-A-Car in North Attleborough, Massachusetts.
The casing was covered in a blue "gum-like substance," which has unexpectedly turned a piece of cotton candy-flavored Bubblicious into an important piece of evidence.
The .45 Glock used to murder Odin Lloyd was never recovered, so prosecutors must produce evidence that links Hernandez to the weapon. Here's why the Bubblicious matters:
On June 18, 2013, the day after Odin Lloyd was murdered, investigators visited the Enterprise Rent-A-Car in North Attleborough. The day before, Aaron Hernandez had returned a silver Nissan Altima he'd been seen driving the morning of Lloyd's murder.
The manager told investigators that Hernandez had returned the silver Altima around 5:30 p.m. on June 17, and "apologized for damage to the driver's side exterior side view mirror and driver's door," and that he said he was not sure "how the damage occurred." She also told police that Hernandez had offered her a piece of blue Bubblicious during the return process.
While cleaning the Altima, the manager threw away items Hernandez had left behind, including a "piece of chewed blue bubble gum and a 'bullet'." (The "bullet" was the .45 shell casing pictured above.)
Police searched the dumpster on June 20, eventually recovering the piece of gum, the shell casing, and other items the manager had described to have been left in the Altima.
On the morning of Lloyd's murder, Hernandez stopped at a convenience store in Canton, Massachusetts, a small town between North Attleborough and Boston. Arriving in the rented Altima, Hernandez purchased 18.39 gallons of gas, a Black & Mild cigar, and a pack of cotton candy-flavored Bubblicious gum. In court documents, investigators suggest that Hernandez (with friends Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz), stopped at the convenience store while on their way from Hernandez's home in North Attleborough (surveillance video shows them leaving around 1 a.m.) to pick up Odin Lloyd in Boston (surveillance video shows him getting into the Altima around 2:30 a.m.).
On Tuesday, prosecutors presented the items recovered from the Enterprise Rent-A-Car dumpster to the jury. The shell casing was shown with a sticky blue substance on one side.
A ballistics report states that the gum-covered shell casing matched the casings found near Lloyd's body:
The State Police Firearms Identification Section determined that the .45 caliber spent cartridge casing recovered by investigators from inside the dumpster on the property of Enterprise Rent-A-Car in North Attleboro and the five (5) .45 caliber spent cartridge casings recovered in close proximity to Odin Lloyd's body were all fired from the same unknown .45 caliber firearm.
Along with the gum and the shell casing, police recovered a "colorful child's drawing" and a bottle of Vitamin Water, flavor XXX.
Lindsey Adler is a sports reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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