Jun 282013
 

Aaron HernandezAt some point, the Aaron Hernandez saga will move into a quiet mode as the two sides prepare for trial, which some believe could take as long as a year from now to commence. But that isn’t today. So here are the developments from yesterday.

1. In a development that was not a surprise to anyone, Aaron Hernandez cleared waivers yesterday, meaning that he is now an unrestricted free agent. Not that it matters. After he cleared waivers, the NFL issued a statement that it will take no action on Hernandez until a team does try to sign him. “NFL clubs were advised today that if Aaron Hernandez enters into a player contract prior to the resolution of the charges pending against him, the contract will not be approved or take effect until Commissioner Roger Goodell holds a hearing,” the league said in a statement.  “The purpose of the hearing would be to determine whether Hernandez should be suspended or face other action prior to the charges being resolved.”

2. The SUV seized by police in their investigation of the 2012 double homicide has been identified as having been rented by Hernandez at the time of the 2012 murders. The fact that the police have been able to jump start a year old cold investigation suggests that one of Hernandez’ “associates” may well be cooperating with the authorities.

3. If that is the case, it is likely Carlos Ortiz, identified as having also been arrested in connection with the slaying of Odin Lloyd. Ortiz has allegedly admitted possessing a firearm in North Attleborough on June 17 and is believed to be one of the men initially questioned by police at Hernandez’ home. Ortiz was arrested at the Connecticut home of of Hernandez’ uncle, the same home searched by police earlier this week. Ortiz waived extradition to Massachusetts, and has a history of convictions for larceny and criminal mischief.

4. Police are also searching Ernest Wallace, who is being described as an accessory after the fact. Wallace is considered armed and dangerous.

5. Finally, police have returned to search Hernandez’ home yet again, this time in relation to the 2012 double homicide.

UPDATE: Ernest Wallace has been captured by police in Miramar, Florida.

Jun 272013
 

Just when you think the case of Aaron Hernandez can’t get any more bizarre, it does, and then does again. Here are the developments just from today:

Aaron Hernandez1. A photo (left) posted on TMZ began making the rounds last night of Hernandez while still at the University of Florida, holding a .45 caliber Glock, trying his best to look the part of a thug.

2. According to Bristol County Assistant District Attorney William McCauley, that same Glock may in fact be the murder weapon. “There was a photo that was shown on the Internet of the defendant holding a Glock .45,” McCauley said. “That Glock… there’s good reason to believe the firearm that killed Mr. Lloyd was a Glock because the Glock has a rifling system that is different than most firearms.” These comments were made today, the same day that Hernandez’ appeal to be allowed bail was denied by Judge Renee Dupuis.

3. According to CNN, Hernandez is now being investigated by authorities for a possible connection to a double slaying in Boston’s South End in July, 2012. This revelation comes a day after authorities executed a search warrant on one of Hernandez’ relatives in Connecticut. According to reports, the Boston Police Department has located and impounded a silver SUV with Rhode Island registration that police have been trying to find for almost a year, that’s linked to the scene of a double homicide in 2012, and investigators believe that Hernandez was renting the SUV at the time of those killings.

All of a sudden, a case that was simply baffling yesterday makes a bit more sense today. It is not much of a stretch to conclude that Odin Lloyd was aware of Hernandez’ role in the 2012 slayings, and that Hernandez feared that Lloyd would end up  revealing Hernandez’ involvement. Yesterday I found myself thinking that it was a huge leap to kill someone simply because they could not be trusted any longer, which was the impression given in the reports that Lloyd had been seen by Hernandez talking to people that Hernandez did not like in a Boston club. But when we add in the notion that Lloyd might have been able to implicate Hernandez in a double homicide, it is much easier to imagine Hernandez reaching the conclusion that he had to kill Lloyd to protect his secret, and it also helps explain the text messages and conversations described by the prosecution in the arraignment yesterday.

With respect to the 2012 killings, investigators believe a fight broke out at Cure, a club in the South End of Boston, between two men and a group that included Hernandez. The two men, Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado, left the club with three other men in a BMW sedan in the early morning hours of July 16, 2012. Abreu, who was driving, stopped at a traffic light on Shawmut Avenue, about to make a left onto Herald Street, when a silver or gray SUV with Rhode Island license plates pulled alongside the sedan. Someone from the SUV opened fire, killing Abreu, 29, and Furtado, 28. It is that SUV that investigators believe they can tie to Hernandez.

All of this, of course, is speculation, and Hernandez is entitled to due process of law and the presumption of innocence. But if it turns out that these dots are connected, and that Hernandez is guilty of three murders, then what we have at hand is probably the single worst criminal professional athlete in the history of the four major sports.

Jun 262013
 

Aaron HernandezAaron Hernandez is not having a good day.

This morning nine officers from the North Attleborough and Massachusetts State Police arrested Aaron Hernandez at his home this morning in connection to the murder of Odin Lloyd, leading him away in handcuffs with Hernandez in red shorts and a white tee shirt. A defiant Hernandez went peacefully into a police cruiser. A video of the arrest can be seen here. Charges have not been released, and are being kept under wraps until his arraignment today.

The New England Patriots wasted no time in responding to the development. Just an hour and a half after his arrest, the Patriots released Hernandez and issued the following statement:

“A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss. Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation.  We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing.  We support their efforts and respect the process.  At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.”

It is believed that Hernandez’ lack of cooperation with the police investigation led to the police conducting an aggressive arrest in daylight in front of cameras, rather than offering him the opportunity to surrender himself to police. While the criminal process affords Hernandez the right of being presumed innocent until guilt is established beyond a reasonable doubt, in the court of public opinion it is very clear that Hernandez is guilty of something; the only remaining question is “what”.

The Patriots’ decision to release Hernandez is not without consequence to the team. The team will have no opportunity to realize a salary savings in 2013 for Hernandez. The Patriots paid Hernandez a  $12.5 million signing bonus in his 2012 contract extension worth a total of $39 million.  It is unclear as to whether or not the Patriots will try to void the deal paying $3.25 million in a deferred payment due on March 31, 2014, and whether they’ll try to wipe out base-salary guaranteed of $1.323 million in 2013 and $1.137 million in 2014. But in this case, the Patriots believe that taking the moral high road is more important than the money, and it is hard to argue against that point. It’s possible that the Patriots have a sense of the charges to be announced, which at this point one would think would include at least obstruction of justice, but might include conspiracy to commit murder and/or murder.

This article will be updated today as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: According to Pro Football Talk: “For 2013, the Patriots will carry a $2.5 million charge for the portion of his $12.5 million signing bonus, paid last year.  Hernandez’s base salary of $1.323 million is fully guaranteed, and so the cap number will remain $4.073 million unless and until the Patriots can finagle a way to avoid paying him.”

North Attleborough Courthouse

UPDATE: Here’s a picture of the North Attleborough court room where Hernandez will be arraigned. Courtesy of Wesley Lowery of the Boston Globe.

UPDATE: I’ve been watching the arraignment live, and Aaron Hernandez has been formally charged with six counts, including the (first-degree) murder of Odin Lloyd and five related gun charges (carrying a firearm without a license and possession of a large capacity firearm). The prosecutor offered a highly detailed summary of the events and the investigation. I was a little surprised to hear that when the police first arrived and knocked to question Hernandez, he refused to answer the door, and instead watched the police from inside his home. From what is said by the prosecutor, it sounds like at least one of Hernandez’ “associates” flipped on him and provided detailed information about conversations taking place in Hernandez’ home and in his car. Further, the prosecutor can place the murder weapon in Hernandez’ hands, based on his own surveillance system. It should be noted that Hernandez does not possess the necessary permit to own any weapons.

Hernandez ArraignmentBased on the evidence presented, Hernandez would appear to be a calculated and brutal, cold-blooded murderer. To expect to get away with what he is accused of doing suggests that Hernandez is either stupid or just used to getting away with things. During the arraignment, Hernandez stood there looking on, appearing utterly emotionless. If anything, Hernandez appeared bored by the prosecutor’s accounting of the evidence.His only display of emotion was to blow his girlfriend a kiss as he was escorted out of the court room. Hernandez can have his presumption of innocence in the criminal courts, but I couldn’t help but watch these proceedings and believed I was watching a thoroughly evil human being. I can only hope that justice is found in the criminal trial that will be coming.

The prosecutor asked for remand while the defense of course offered that Hernandez was not a flight risk. The judge ultimately decided that Hernandez should be held without bail, to which I wholeheartedly concur. The judge did agree to the defense’s request for a gag order on the case, which seems a sensible precaution for both sides in such a public case.

 

Jun 202013
 

Aaron HernandezAaron Hernandez is not having a good off-season. To make matters worse, it may be a permanent off-season.

Hernandez visited Gillette Stadium today, amid ongoing reports that he is a suspect in the homicide of 27-year old Odin Lloyd, a friend of the Patriots’ tight end.

Lloyd was one of four men, including Hernandez, who left a Boston bar on the night of the murder. Only three men returned to Hernandez’ house, and Lloyd’s body was found by a jogger early Monday less than a mile from Hernandez’ home. Lloyd was dating the sister of Hernandez’ girlfriend. Police have since noted that Hernandez is directly tied to the homicide, though they have stopped short of labeling him a suspect. Police have searched Hernandez’ residence twice and detained two individuals seeking to leave the property. At least one report places the car driven by Hernandez at the crime scene.

Hernandez, a native of Bristol, Connecticut, played at the University of Florida, where he earned the John Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end. But Hernandez failed at least one drug test and slipped to the fourth round in the 2010 draft, where the Patriots selected him after having already selected Rob Gronkowski. In three seasons with the Patriots, Hernandez has caught 175 passes for 1,956 yards and 18 touchdowns, but has missed ten games over that span due to injuries. Hernandez underwent shoulder surgery in April.

Hernandez is also currently involved in a lawsuit for allegedly shooting a man in the face during an altercation at a Miami strip club.

Even if Hernandez is cleared in the current investigation, the NFL will review the case to determine if disciplinary action is needed. The Patriots, never desiring unwanted attention, may well release or trade Hernandez even if he is cleared. I will withhold opinion on this subject until the police have completed their investigation, but it seems fair to say that things are not looking for Hernandez.

UPDATE: It gets worse for Hernandez. ABC News is reporting that Hernandez allegedly destroyed his own home security system, including surveillance data, and destroyed his own cell phone, which has now been turned over to police. Additionally, ABC News reports that a “team of cleaners” was hired on Monday to scrub Hernandez’ home. The situation is getting uglier by the moment.

UPDATE (6/21): According to multiple news reports, an arrest warrant has been issued for Hernandez on obstruction of justice charges. It remains to be seen who the police believe is the shooter. Reports also note that Hernandez’ neighbors heard gunshots on the night of the murder, but no one bothered to call the police. I think it’s fair to say that the Commissioner’s office will lower the boom on Hernandez, and at the very least he will be suspended for the entirety of the 2013 season. Whether or not the Patriots choose to keep the troubled tight end is another story.