Boston Herald: Full Court Press: Shocking admission key to Aaron Hernandez’s PCP scenario

Boston Herald: Full Court Press: Shocking admission key to Aaron Hernandez’s PCP scenario

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
By: Bob McGovern

Aaron Hernandez was there the night Odin Lloyd was murdered, and that bombshell admission was the key to a high-risk defense gambit that could pay off with an acquittal or put the former New England Patriot behind bars.

"He was a 23-year-old kid who witnessed something. A shocking killing, committed by someone he knew. He didn't know what to do," said defense attorney James Sultan during his 90-minute closing argument yesterday. "He just put one foot in front of the other."

The jury, who begin deliberating today, had never heard this stunning admission. It was a calculated last-minute move by Hernandez's defense team, and Sultan expertly weaved it into his closing argument as if it were a foregone conclusion.

While the admission may strike some as a strange concession, it also provided the last piece to the alternative scenario laid out by Hernandez's lawyers on Monday: that his co-defendants, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, were the cold-blooded triggermen.

Sultan, who was the star of the day, wanted to send the jury away with the idea that Ortiz and Wallace were high on PCP when the murder took place. In this version of events, Hernandez was a just bystander - a young dupe with way too much to lose who didn't know what to do.

"I want you to focus on what you know about Wallace and Ortiz and the fact that they took PCP," Sultan said. "Did one of them murder Odin Lloyd without Aaron Hernandez knowing about it?"

To make their scenario convincing to the jury, the defense needed to admit what was likely obvious after more than nine weeks of testimony: namely, that their guy was at the scene of the murder.

Even an experienced trial lawyer like Brad Bailey was caught off-guard by Sultan's maneuver.

"It opened my eyes, especially when you consider he didn't need to be the shooter. He just needed to be at the scene with the shared intent," said Bailey, a former prosecutor not involved in the case. "That's a big concession, but it also shows that they put a lot of stock in this PCP defense."

That's the narrow line that Hernandez's attorneys had to walk. On one hand, their main defense is that their guy was on the sidelines as someone else pulled the trigger. On the other, if he knew the killing was going to occur and he wanted it to happen, he's just as guilty under Massachusetts law.

But prosecutors, as always, got the last word. Assistant District Attorney William McCauley told jurors the PCP defense was a "distraction" intended to "shift your focus" away from the cold, hard facts.

If Hernandez was scared of his drug-addled buddies, why would he wake up the next morning and let them play with his baby girl?

So the jurors are left to wrestle with two scenarios: Either Hernandez is a calculated killer, or he's a patsy tagging along after murderous goons.

Original article published by, and available in full at Boston Herald.

Aaron Hernandez was there the night Odin Lloyd was murdered, and that bombshell admission was the key to a high-risk defense gambit that could pay off with an acquittal or put the former New England Patriot behind bars.

"He was a 23-year-old kid who witnessed something. A shocking killing, committed by someone he knew. He didn't know what to do," said defense attorney James Sultan during his 90-minute closing argument yesterday. "He just put one foot in front of the other."

The jury, who begin deliberating today, had never heard this stunning admission. It was a calculated last-minute move by Hernandez's defense team, and Sultan expertly weaved it into his closing argument as if it were a foregone conclusion.

While the admission may strike some as a strange concession, it also provided the last piece to the alternative scenario laid out by Hernandez's lawyers on Monday: that his co-defendants, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, were the cold-blooded triggermen.

Sultan, who was the star of the day, wanted to send the jury away with the idea that Ortiz and Wallace were high on PCP when the murder took place. In this version of events, Hernandez was a just bystander - a young dupe with way too much to lose who didn't know what to do.

"I want you to focus on what you know about Wallace and Ortiz and the fact that they took PCP," Sultan said. "Did one of them murder Odin Lloyd without Aaron Hernandez knowing about it?"

To make their scenario convincing to the jury, the defense needed to admit what was likely obvious after more than nine weeks of testimony: namely, that their guy was at the scene of the murder.

Even an experienced trial lawyer like Brad Bailey was caught off-guard by Sultan's maneuver.

"It opened my eyes, especially when you consider he didn't need to be the shooter. He just needed to be at the scene with the shared intent," said Bailey, a former prosecutor not involved in the case. "That's a big concession, but it also shows that they put a lot of stock in this PCP defense."

That's the narrow line that Hernandez's attorneys had to walk. On one hand, their main defense is that their guy was on the sidelines as someone else pulled the trigger. On the other, if he knew the killing was going to occur and he wanted it to happen, he's just as guilty under Massachusetts law.

But prosecutors, as always, got the last word. Assistant District Attorney William McCauley told jurors the PCP defense was a "distraction" intended to "shift your focus" away from the cold, hard facts.

If Hernandez was scared of his drug-addled buddies, why would he wake up the next morning and let them play with his baby girl?

So the jurors are left to wrestle with two scenarios: Either Hernandez is a calculated killer, or he's a patsy tagging along after murderous goons.

Original article published by, and available in full at Boston Herald.

Aaron Hernandez was there the night Odin Lloyd was murdered, and that bombshell admission was the key to a high-risk defense gambit that could pay off with an acquittal or put the former New England Patriot behind bars.

"He was a 23-year-old kid who witnessed something. A shocking killing, committed by someone he knew. He didn't know what to do," said defense attorney James Sultan during his 90-minute closing argument yesterday. "He just put one foot in front of the other."

The jury, who begin deliberating today, had never heard this stunning admission. It was a calculated last-minute move by Hernandez's defense team, and Sultan expertly weaved it into his closing argument as if it were a foregone conclusion.

While the admission may strike some as a strange concession, it also provided the last piece to the alternative scenario laid out by Hernandez's lawyers on Monday: that his co-defendants, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, were the cold-blooded triggermen.

Sultan, who was the star of the day, wanted to send the jury away with the idea that Ortiz and Wallace were high on PCP when the murder took place. In this version of events, Hernandez was a just bystander - a young dupe with way too much to lose who didn't know what to do.

"I want you to focus on what you know about Wallace and Ortiz and the fact that they took PCP," Sultan said. "Did one of them murder Odin Lloyd without Aaron Hernandez knowing about it?"

To make their scenario convincing to the jury, the defense needed to admit what was likely obvious after more than nine weeks of testimony: namely, that their guy was at the scene of the murder.

Even an experienced trial lawyer like Brad Bailey was caught off-guard by Sultan's maneuver.

"It opened my eyes, especially when you consider he didn't need to be the shooter. He just needed to be at the scene with the shared intent," said Bailey, a former prosecutor not involved in the case. "That's a big concession, but it also shows that they put a lot of stock in this PCP defense."

That's the narrow line that Hernandez's attorneys had to walk. On one hand, their main defense is that their guy was on the sidelines as someone else pulled the trigger. On the other, if he knew the killing was going to occur and he wanted it to happen, he's just as guilty under Massachusetts law.

But prosecutors, as always, got the last word. Assistant District Attorney William McCauley told jurors the PCP defense was a "distraction" intended to "shift your focus" away from the cold, hard facts.

If Hernandez was scared of his drug-addled buddies, why would he wake up the next morning and let them play with his baby girl?

So the jurors are left to wrestle with two scenarios: Either Hernandez is a calculated killer, or he's a patsy tagging along after murderous goons.

Original article published by, and available in full at Boston Herald.