Jury deliberating in Aaron Hernandez's murder trial

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 08, 2015 10:38 AM

By Daniel Lovering

FALL RIVER, Mass. (Reuters) - Jurors in ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez's murder trial resumed deliberations at a Massachusetts court on Wednesday, a day after the defense argued he was only a witness to the killing that prosecutors say he orchestrated.

Hernandez, 25, is charged with murder and firearms violations in the killing of Odin Lloyd, a semiprofessional football player who had been dating his fiancee's sister. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. He has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say Hernandez and two friends, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, picked up Lloyd at his Boston home before dawn on June 17, 2013, and drove him to an industrial park near Hernandez's house in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, where they shot him dead.

During closing arguments on Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney William McCauley said the former tight end had become angry at Lloyd two nights earlier at a Boston night club, and that he "controlled every aspect of that trip" the night of the murder.

But defense attorney James Sultan portrayed Hernandez as a hapless "23-year-old kid" who witnessed "a shocking killing committed by somebody he knew."

Wallace and Ortiz have also been charged with murder and will be tried separately. They have pleaded not guilty.

The defense team sought to shift blame onto the pair by suggesting they were using the drug PCP, which one witness said could lead to violent, unpredictable behavior.

They also argued Hernandez would not have killed Lloyd because the two were friends. Lloyd's former girlfriend testified they were in the early stages of a friendship, but were not close, and smoked marijuana together.

Lloyd, 27, was shot six times at close range with a .45-caliber Glock pistol that has not been found, according to investigators.

During the trial, which began in late January, the prosecution called more than 130 witnesses and the defense called three.

Hernandez faces a charge of murder and two firearms-related violations, including illegal possession of the .45-caliber handgun allegedly used in the crime and .22-caliber ammunition seized at his house.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Hernandez would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. A second-degree murder conviction would lead to a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 15 years.

The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for less than two hours after closing arguments on Tuesday before resuming on Wednesday morning.

(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Ted Botha)