'Justice Was Served': Aaron Hernandez's Attorney Speaks Out About His Shocking Acquittal
For anyone not following the double murder trial of Aaron Hernandez, his acquittal on Friday was a shocking turn of events. After all, the former NFL star is still serving a life sentence for the 2011 murder of Odin Lloyd. It seemed likely that he would also be convicted of the 2012 killing of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.
But his attorney, Jose Baez, was not shocked by Friday’s not guilty verdict.
“I wasn’t surprised, but I was relieved,” he tells PEOPLE. “I knew we had raised doubt throughout that case. I had never been involved in a case with so much reasonable doubt.”
For several weeks, the prosecution alleged that Hernandez had gunned down the two men after one of them had accidentally bumped into him at a Boston nightclub. The defense poked holes in that theory, instead pointing the finger at the prosecution’s star witness, Alexander Bradley.
By all accounts, Bradley was in the same silver SUV as Hernandez when the shooting occurred.
“Bradley’s statements didn’t make any sense,” Baez says. “There were lies and inconsistencies in his statements. The way Bradley said the shooting happened didn’t make any sense. It’s more likely that we’ll have dinner on the moon tonight than it is that Bradley was telling the truth.”
Bradley was granted immunity in return for his testimony against Aaron Hernandez. The prosecution maintains that Bradley was not the gunman.
“This case was always about the victims,” Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley told the assembled media, according to the Boston Herald. He claimed that the victims were painted as “gangbangers and drug dealers” when they were actually “two hard-working immigrants,”
“We investigated thoroughly and fairly and in our minds it points inescapably to Aaron Hernandez,” Conley continued. “Alexander Bradley did not commit the crime.”
But the jury disagreed that Hernandez was the shooter — acquitting him of all the charges except one: possession of an unlicensed firearm.
“I think charging Aaron was a political move,” Baez tells PEOPLE. “They wanted an NFL player, so why not hit the man while he’s down?” (When Hernandez was charged with this double murder, he was already in jail for the Odin Lloyd case.)
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Baez first rose to prominence when he represented Casey Anthony in her 2011 trial for the murder of her daughter, Caylee. She was acquitted of the most serious charges, and only convicted of lying to police.
In the years since Anthony’s trial, Baez has remained in the spotlight. He represented several high-profile defendants, including Bobbi Kristina Brown’s boyfriend Nick Gordon, former Aruba murder suspect Gary Giordano and “King of Instagram” Dan Bilzerian. (Gordon were never formally charged with a crime. Giordano was held but never charged. Charges against Bilzerian were dropped.)
His run of successful trials has earned him the nickname “The King of the Courtroom” and even landed him a regular role on the FOX show You the Jury. But Baez tells PEOPLE that the Hernandez trial was unchartered territory for him. “I had never represented someone for murder who was already in jail for another murder,” he says. “So I really had to think about the best way to do this. I generally learn something new from each trial, because each case is different.”Hernandez is still planning to appeal his conviction in the Odin Lloyd case, which will be easier without a double murder conviction on his record.So did the jury get it right? “Absolutely. Justice was served,” says Baez. “The cold hard fact is that Aaron didn’t do it. The jury made the right decision.”