Former football star Hernandez is charged with the 2012 murders of two men outside a Boston nightclub

By Steve Helling
March 01, 2017 06:51 PM
Products in this story are independently selected and featured editorially. If you make a purchase using these links we may earn commission.
Advertisement
Image
Credit: Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/Getty

Former NFL star and convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez is on trial again — this time over accusations he murdered Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in a drive-by shooting outside of a Boston nightclub in 2012.

The murder trial against the former New England Patriot began on Wednesday, where attorneys presented two very different theories of the crime.

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. Hernandez took that as insult, Haggan claimed.

“It was a simple bump, a spilled drink and an exchange of looks,” he 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 seems to hinge on the testimony of their star witness, Alexander Bradley, a former friend of Hernandez. By all accounts, Bradley was in the same silver SUV as Hernandez when the shooting occurred.

Prosecutors also allege Hernandez shot Bradley in the face after the incident, in order to silence him. Although Bradley survived the attack, he lost his right eye. Hernandez is not facing charges in that shooting.

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter

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.

• Pick up PEOPLE’s special edition True Crime Stories: Cases That Shocked America, on sale now, for the latest on Casey Anthony, JonBenét Ramsey and more.

In his opening, Baez pointed out that the nightclub — which had more than a dozen cameras inside — had no usable footage of the alleged altercation in which the men bumped into Hernandez.

“We have an NFL football player, and the cameras are here,” Baez said, pointing at the media in the courtroom. “That’s what this is all about.”

The prosecution, which called sisters of the victims as its first witnesses on Wednesday, will continue presenting its case on Thursday. The trial is expected to last four to six weeks.

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.