Here's What's Going On:
- Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez is on trial for the murder of Odin Lloyd, the boyfriend of Hernandez's fiancée's sister.
- Jurors are in their third day of deliberations.
- The prosecution's case has relied largely on circumstantial evidence, such as a shoe print, a bullet casing, and his fiancée's testimony about throwing away a large box.
- Following this verdict, Hernandez will stand trial in Boston for a 2012 double homicide.
Court ended Friday at 1 p.m. ET at the jury's request. Deliberations, which have now been ongoing for nearly 20 hours, will resume Monday.
WHDH photographer Robert Cusanelli, who has been with the outlet for 16 years, testified that he followed jurors because "I was made aware that our station thought it would be good information to learn where the jurors were getting on and off the bus."
He said no one at WHDH instructed him to follow the jurors – he just thought it was good information to have. He said he didn't believe he was doing anything wrong at the time, but sees now it was a mistake.
The judge ordered him off the trial, but didn't ban the outlet in any other way.
Just before 1 p.m., the court released a transcript of the sidebar discussion between the juror and the judge:
When we got off the bus yesterday, I was walking down towards my truck; and when I got towards my truck, there was a Ford Explorer that I saw stop. When it stopped, the guy looked at me, and then he quickly went up and took a right and then came up and went around the church and came back. [...] I pulled up behind him and just took the picture. But I thought it was very strange that I saw the same vehicle go up, come back, and then I saw him again on the other side. You could clearly see it stopped.
The juror then told Judge Garsh that he doesn't believe this incident will affect his ability to deliberate on this case:
I just wanted to bring it to your attention because I didn't think it was a police officer.
The jury continues to deliberate, coming up on its 12th hour.
On its Twitter account, WHDH released a statement:
This morning, in the Aaron Hernandez trial, the judge questioned 7News as to any impropriety with the jury in the case. 7News did not approach any juror or talk to any juror. We also did not videotape or take pictures of any juror. We are continuing to work with the court and investigate the situation.
On its noon broadcast, WHDH responded to the judge and jurors' claims, stating that its reporters did not "approach," "speak to," or "take photos of the jurors."
Just before the 12:15 p.m. deadline, Bristol County ADA spokesman said WHDH was given more time because it has an attorney en route to the courthouse.
The judge threatened to call a mistrial Thursday after a Boston TV station allegedly followed jurors after the end of the day on Wednesday.
Judge E. Susan Garsh immediately called a sidebar with prosecutors and defense attorneys on Thursday. Aaron Hernandez was allowed to stand with the attorneys during their discussion, which he has only been allowed to do when it involves a juror issue.
A male juror entered the courtroom and showed Judge Garsh something on his cell phone. He was then sent out and a female juror entered and briefly approached the group. Smiling the entire time, she was sent out of the room.
Judge Garsh ordered the full 12-person jury into the courtroom. The judge asked if they had read, heard, or had any conversations about the trial outside the courtroom — no one spoke up. This has been customary during the trial, but on Thursday Garsh's questions came with extra emphasis.
Garsh instructed the jury to continue deliberating. After they left, she sternly addressed the media in the back of the room.
"Does anyone here drive the WHDH news van?"
A reporter with WHDH, a Boston–based NBC station stood up. He told her that he did not drive the van, but that he was with the network.
Garsh said two jurors reported being followed by the WHDH news van after leaving court on Wednesday.
One juror said the van followed him from the parking lot and even continued on his trail after he did a U-turn. The juror took a photo of the van's license plate, which is presumably what was shown on his cell phone during the sidebar discussion.
While a trial is ongoing, media is not allowed to take photos of or speak with jurors.
Garsh warned that harassing a juror is a potential felony, and that she is considering barring WHDH media from the trial.
She added that the network's actions could have led to a mistrial. The jury as it exists now is 12 jurors with three alternates, but the case will result in a mistrial if four jurors are dismissed, leaving only 11 to deliberate.
Hernandez, seated between the media and the judge, turned to stare intently at the reporter as he discussed his network's actions with the judge.
Attorneys are now gathered at a sidebar. Hernandez stares straight ahead. His mother and Shayanna stare straight ahead. On the opposite side of the courtroom, Odin Lloyd's mother and Shaneah stare straight ahead.
McCauley concluded his closing statement with compelling evidence for his case, despite the shaky, erratic start.
He asked the jury to return a fair verdict: "One that is supported by full deliberation and finding the facts. I'm going to suggest that if you do that, you will find the defendant guilty of first-degree murder. We can not ask anything more of the jury but we expect nothing less. "
For his final word on Hernandez's alleged actions, McCauley explained: "He believed he could kill Odin Lloyd, and no one would ever believe he was involved."
Massachusetts law requires prosecutors to prove Hernandez orchestrated the killing.
Despite already detailing forensic evidence that McCauley says proves Hernandez fired the shots that killed Lloyd, McCauley went further to present the dynamic of the friend group on the night of the murder.
Hernandez was the one who rented a Nissan Altima. He is the one who told Ortiz and Wallace to come over to his home. He is the one who drove to Boston to pick up Odin Lloyd. There is no evidence that the men went to a club or a diner. McCauley said there was no other reason for them to be in an empty lot in North Attleborough at 3:25 a.m. than if Hernandez intended to murder Lloyd.
Proving premeditation, as McCauley attempted to do with this line of arguing, is a condition of first-degree murder.
McCauley says Hernandez lied to police about the last time he saw Lloyd. He says the last time Hernandez saw Lloyd was "when he was shooting him to death."
McCauley said the relationship was about what Hernandez could get from Lloyd.
"It was all about marijuana," he said citing phone call records and text messages. He said there is no evidence of friendship.
McCauley focused on the PCP storyline introduced by Hernandez's cousin, Jennifer Mercado.
After alleging that Mercado made up the story to protect her cousin, he pointed to the witness called by the defense who testified about the indicators of PCP use. "He wrote 780 articles and not one mentions PCP."
McCauley then pointed out that Hernandez allowed Ortiz and Wallace — his "crazy" friends who the defense suggested killed Lloyd — to hold his infant daughter the day after Lloyd was murdered. The defense suggested that Hernandez was holding a gun in his home because he was afraid of his friends, who he had just watched kill Lloyd. McCauley argues: If Hernandez really believed his friends were dangerous, would he really let them hold his baby?
McCauley accuses Shayanna Jenkins of lying.
McCauley asks: "Why is the gun unknown? There is evidence you could find that Shayanna Jenkins removed the gun from the home. You've seen the video: He had the gun and you never saw it leave the house. He was carrying it around like a trophy. "
He points out that Shayanna said she saw small boxes in the large box, but had already said she couldn't see inside the box because of cardboard covering the top.
McCauley then begins setting up his argument that Shayanna was a passive sidekick to Hernandez's desires:
"Hernandez called the shots. He told her to remove box. Your sister is sitting in your home and you're running around with a box because Hernandez told you to?"
During her testimony, Shayanna suggested a dynamic to the same effect. Near the end of her two-day testimony, she said she accepted infidelity from Hernandez as a condition of their relationship.
Read more about Shayanna's testimony here.
McCauley laid out forensic evidence that points to Hernandez firing the shots:
McCauley's explanation was thorough and backed by evidence, but difficult to follow.
The night of the murder, Hernandez, Wallace, and Ortiz left Hernandez's home around 11 p.m. and drove 45 minutes north to Boston to pick up Lloyd and drove back — via detours — to North Attleboro, McCauley said. They didn't return to Hernandez's house until 3 a.m.
Lloyd confirmed he had to work the next morning. It is now 2:30 a.m. and he's being driven in the opposite direction from where he works, McCauley said.
Read the full timeline of events here.
Defense has argued that Hernandez met up with Lloyd the night of the murder to buy weed. McCauley asks: "If the suggestion is that he had 30 pounds of marijuana in his basement, was that really what he was interested in getting that night?"
A witness testified that Hernandez was glaring at Lloyd at a nightclub just days before the murder. McCauley suggests Hernandez felt disrespected because Lloyd immediately ditched him for his other friends. He reminds the jury of evidence that Hernandez said Lloyd should feel grateful he allowed him to hang out around him. The same night, Hernandez ran into his babysitter, Jennifer Fortier, and took her to his secret apartment in Franklin, Massachusetts, despite her protests. Fortier testified that Lloyd was with Hernandez in the car and the men got high at the apartment in Franklin. The next day, Hernandez texted his fianceé and told her he'd made a mistake and accidentally told Odin about his secret spot.
So about the night Lloyd was murdered, McCauley asks the jury: "What is the purpose of why he wants to meet up with Odin Lloyd? Is it about marijuana, or is it about what happened at the club and now he doesn't trust him?"
McCauley: "Ask yourself this, no motive? What causes someone to go arm themselves? A look? Being disrespected?"
After a brief recess, prosecutor William McCauley begins to address the jury.
During recess, Hernandez was led out of and back into the courtroom. Upon both exit and return, he turned to his family row and mouthed "I love you" to his fiancée, Shayanna.
Sultan spent his full 90 minutes poking holes in the prosecution's case to establish reasonable doubt. His point is clear: The case is not about if Hernandez was involved in the murder, but if prosecutors have proved involvement beyond reasonable doubt.
It will be up to the prosecution to prove Hernandez's relationship with Lloyd gives the jury evidence that he was the only person who could have conceivably orchestrated the killing.
Read more about the importance of their relationship here.
"It’s hard to convict someone of murder in our system of justice. It’s supposed to be hard."
"Even if you find he was present that's not enough, even if you find he associated with the perpetrator that's not enough," Sultan said. "Even if you find he knew it was going to happen that's not enough. Even if you find he didn't do anything to stop it that's not enough. Even if you find he may be involved that's not enough. Even if you find he was probably involved that's not enough. Even if you find there was a strong likelihood that's not enough. Even if you find he tried to cover it up or assisted the perpetrator that's not enough."
Sultan said it's difficult to draw conclusions on what Hernandez is holding based on a grainy video.
Sultan says that prosecution has not proven that Hernandez emerged from his basement holding a gun.
The defense lawyer said it has not been determined whether the item Hernandez is holding is an iPad or a gun.
An hour into his statement, Sultan narrowed in on Hernandez's friends, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace.
"The prosecution has called 131 witnesses, but not Ortiz and Wallace, his co-defendants? Were they not important enough?"
In late March, Hernandez's cousin Jennifer Mercado testified that she knew Ortiz and Wallace to smoke PCP. She said she could tell the difference between PCP and marijuana because of the smell and how they behaved immediately after. Sultan reminded the jury that Mercado testified that Ortiz would often wipe his face with a towel while he was high on PCP, which makes its users sweaty and jittery.
A white towel was found at the murder scene, and earlier in the statement Sultan reminded the jury that the investigators had not tested the towel at the scene. Earlier that night, Ortiz was seen with a white towel around his neck.
Under Massachusetts state law, the prosecution does not need to prove Hernandez pulled the trigger, but that he orchestrated the killing. Sultan says the prosecution has not presented sufficient evidence to believe Hernandez had a reason to be angry at Lloyd, let alone angry enough to murder him.
In reminding the jury that Ortiz and Wallace were with Hernandez the night of the murder, and alleging that the prosecution deliberately left out Ortiz and Wallace to make their case against Hernandez, Sultan attempts to show the holes in the case, and therefore tell the jury they cannot convict on grounds of reasonable doubt.
Sultan: “For all resources prosecution put into this case, you would think they would come up with more evidence. They started with a presumption of guilt.”
Sultan has focused heavily on how the prosecution has used evidence to imply Hernandez is guilty of murdering Odin Lloyd, but hasn't presented enough evidence to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
In the first 30 minutes of his closing statement, Sultan mentioned the phrase "reasonable doubt" six times. A standard defense tactic, Sultan is making it the focus of his argument against convicting Hernandez. He has not yet explicitly said Hernandez is innocent, but has instead focused on "gaps" in the prosecution's case.
"It's up to you the jury to decide whether the prosecution has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. If that heavy burden has not been met, then under our American system of justice there is only one lawful verdict: not guilty. "
"If there was any reason Aaron had to kill Odin Lloyd wouldn't you think we would hear about it in nine weeks," Sultan said.
Hernandez's attorney, James Sultan, said there’s really only two ways you can go about analyzing the evidence in the case — the right way and the wrong way.
The right way is to start with presumption of innocence, he said.
"If you look at the evidence the right way, starting there, being objective, you will have to conclude that Aaron Hernandez is not guilty of murdering Odin Lloyd," Sultan said. "The only way you can get to a different conclusion is to analyze the evidence the wrong way."
There are two overriding questions in the case, Sultan said: "Who killed Odin Lloyd and why did it happen?"
Sultan proceeded to describe Hernandez and Lloyd's friendship and their shared passion for marijuana.
"Were they friends? Obvious they were friends," Sultan said. "They were future brothers in law."
Jury is brought into courtroom at 9:08 a.m. ET.
Judge Garsh ran through closing argument instructions and how they can address the jury during their statements. No new evidence is allowed to be introduced and they are not allowed to ask jurors to put their emotions into the decision. She also officially denied the defense's motion for a mandatory not guilty verdict, which is standard procedure.