He had faced several charges, including two counts of first-degree murder. He was found guilty only of possession of an unlicensed firearm.
The jury reached its verdict after 37 hours of deliberation over 6 days. Hernandez stood stoically as the verdict was rendered. The families of Abreu and Furtado clung to each other and wept in the front row.
The verdict comes after attorneys presented two very different theories of the killing.
In his opening statement, prosecutor Patrick Haggan told the jury that Hernandez had a brief altercation with de Abreu and Safiro Furtado after one of them bumped into him, which Hernandez allegedly took as an insult, Haggan claimed.
“It was a simple bump, a spilled drink and an exchange of looks,” Haggan said. He alleged that two hours later, Hernandez opened fire on the men’s car as they waited at a traffic light.
The prosecution’s case hinged on the testimony of their star witness, Alexander Bradley, a former friend of Hernandez’s. By all accounts, Bradley was in the same silver SUV as Hernandez when the shooting occurred.
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The defense told jurors a different story — and pinned the blame squarely on Bradley. Attorney Jose Baez, best-known for winning an acquittal for Casey Anthony, described Bradley as a dangerous drug trafficker who had a personal vendetta against the two men.
“Ladies and gentleman, this didn’t happen over a spilled drink,” Baez told the jurors. “This happened over a drug deal. Alexander Bradley had issues with Daniel de Abreu, and that’s why we’re all sitting here today.”
Baez told jurors that prosecutors were so desperate to convict Hernandez that they “made a deal with the devil,” meaning Bradley.
He also alleged that police had mishandled the investigation from the start, and he hammered at apparent gaps in the evidence.
When Hernandez was accused of the 2012 double murder, he was already facing charges that he murdered Odin Lloyd in a separate incident, for which he was later convicted and for which he is serving life in prison.
Hernandez was sentenced to an additional four to five years on the unlicensed firearm conviction.