Now that Aaron Hernandez has been convicted of the first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd, the victim's family's wrongful death lawsuit against the former New England Patriots star can proceed.
And one of the goals of that suit, said Doug Sheff, who represents Ursula Ward on behalf of her dead son, is figuring out exactly how much money Hernandez has left.
At a news conference Wednesday, Sheff said that the 2013 suit, if it goes to trial, aims to make people "remember the name Odin Lloyd long after they forget Aaron Hernandez." He said he aims to achieve "complete justice" for the victim's family, though this suit has "never been about the money."
But, Sheff said, he will attempt to call witnesses with knowledge of Hernandez's financial situation. He would not reveal any known status of Hernandez's financials, adding the family will "need the court's help" to uncover this information.
Sheff also said he would call at least one other witness who did not appear in the criminal trial to testify: Aaron Hernandez.
In addition to revealing any information about his assets, which Sheff says he does not expect him to be "forthcoming" about, Hernandez will be called to answer two questions for Ursula Ward: "What happened that night, and why?"
The state of Hernandez's financials is a question that has lingered after his first murder trial came to a close last week. (He was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. Hernandez will appeal, which is automatic in Massachusetts for first-degree murder crimes.)
How much did he earn during his short NFL career? How was it spent? Will he have enough money to retain his high-powered attorneys? And how much money is left to be claimed through his four pending civil cases?
The process to potentially reveal how much money Hernandez has left, and where, will be complicated. But Sheff's position is simple: "We are not confident he has any money, but he sure has received a lot over the years."
Lloyd's family have already secured two potential sources of restitution if they win their case: Hernandez's mansion in North Attleborough, Massachusetts, and any money the Patriots might owe him.
In 2014 his family requested — and a court approved — a freeze on the assets of his home, ensuring it could not be transferred or sold while his trial played out. His fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, still lives in the home with their 2-year-old daughter, Avielle. Hernandez bought the home for $1.3 million. The victim's family has secured it for up to $5 million.
When the lawsuit was filed in 2013, the Patriots and Kraft Patriots, LLC, were listed as "reach and apply" defendants. A dispute about whether or not the team owes Hernandez $3.25 million as part of a signing bonus has yet to be resolved.
Ward's attorney confirmed on Wednesday an agreement to remove the Patriots from the lawsuit with the understanding that if the Patriots are found responsible for any money owed to Hernandez, it will be secured for Lloyd's family.
Ward, who did not take questions, also spoke on behalf of her slain child at Wednesday's the news conference.
"The day they told me my son was shot and killed, I thought my life had ended with him. I always wished I had taken those bullets for him," she said, tearfully. "Odin was a hero in my book."
Lindsey Adler is a sports reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Lindsey Adler at email@example.com.
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