TAKING THE STAND? Former Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes, shown, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft are included on the list of potential witnesses in the murder trial of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
By:Chris Cassidy, Bob McGovern
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft - just two of the more than 300 people on the prosecution's list of "potential witnesses" in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial - could be called to the stand to establish the sanity of the disgraced former tight end, according to legal observers.
"This is really probably designed … to show (Hernandez') state of mind at the time of murder," said Brad Bailey, a defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. "To try to negate any possible mental health type of defense, or any type of defense to establish he wasn't in his right mind or wasn't able to form the requisite intent required for proof of first-degree murder."
Former Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone, now a partner at Nixon Peabody, told the Herald that prosecutors could demand all team psychological, physical and medical reports and exams on Hernandez to try to thwart an insanity defense. The Patriots brass could also provide an important glimpse into Hernandez' day-to-day behavior, he said.
"There may be some relevant and material issues that they can testify to, like personal character or state of mind/intent," said Leone. "Teammates seem more relevant to potential issues at trial, like motive and opportunity to commit the crimes he is charged with."
New documents released yesterday show Belichick, Kraft, former Pats linebacker Brandon Spikes, strength and conditioning coach Harold Nash and Miami Dolphins lineman Mike Pouncey - a former Hernandez teammate at the University of Florida - are all on the prosecution's 305-name witness list.
In July, the Patriots turned over some 34 text messages between Belichick and Hernandez.
Defense attorney Randy Chapman said it's clear prosecutors included anybody remotely associated with the case on its witness list, but he doubted either Belichick or Kraft would ever be called to testify.
"It definitely would bump the ratings, but I think it's probably unlikely," said Chapman. "It doesn't strike me that Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft are hanging around with Aaron Hernandez and will know what he was intending to do that night."
Hernandez' legal team has argued that prosecutors are playing games by putting out such a long list.
The judge, according to the new filings, wrote that both sides should work to cut down the list, but he ruled against the defense's request to require prosecutors do so.