By Bob McGovern
Friday, January 9, 2015
Aaron Hernandez lost everything - the fans, the paycheck, his superstar status - but there's no guarantee he'll lose his freedom for the murder of Odin L. Lloyd.
It's a case based entirely on circumstantial evidence, and it's going to be a dogfight. There's no weapon connecting Hernandez to Lloyd's death. A series of rulings have whittled down the list of evidence that prosecutors were hoping to show jurors. And Hernandez, with millions in assets, has hired a high-powered defense team to take advantage of every weakness in the prosecution's case.
"The defense has made it very clear that they're going to wage an aggressive and zealous defense here, and they've had a lot of good rulings in their favor," said Brad Bailey, a criminal defense attorney who is not involved in the case.
Prosecutors are going to lead jurors down a path. They're likely going to bring up how the tire tracks near Lloyd's body match those of a rental car in Hernandez's name. They'll refer to surveillance footage from Hernandez's home and try to draw a timeline that places him at the crime scene.
Two Hernandez associates also have been charged with Lloyd's murder. But with no indication they have a willing eyewitness, prosecutors will have to build the story of Aaron Hernandez through other associates, cops and possibly his own fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, who faces a perjury charge. There's even a chance New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will take the stand - much to the delight of sports writers who are used to him dodging questions.
Hernandez's high-powered defense team will poke holes in the prosecutors' story, and vigorously cross-examine each and every witness who takes the stand.
"Circumstantial cases are ripe for the defense to go after the weak link in the chain, and try to break them," Bailey said. "These guys are off to a head start."
Expect the national media to swarm the Fall River courthouse. ESPN has rented out office space nearby.
For today's jury selection, Judge Susan Garsh already cautioned that there will be "only 25 standing-room-only spots, which will be filled on a first-come basis."
"The huge media attention that this case has drawn will definitely be warranted - this is going to be a battle royale in the courtroom," said David Yannetti, a criminal defense attorney not involved in the case.
Hernandez's lawyers already know they have momentum. Last month, walking into the courtroom after a break, attorneys Charles Rankin and James Sultan were discussing evidence they had succeeded in having thrown out.
"Those were some big ones," Rankin said. Sultan nodded, and sat down next to the fallen NFL star.
[For the original story, visit the Boston Herald]