Aaron Hernandez’s suicide Wednesday was shocking for many reasons. Among them was the fact that, just five days earlier, the former New England Patriots tight end was found not guilty in the 2012 double murder of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston.
The surprising verdict, delivered April 14, acquitted Hernandez of the July 2012 shooting at a traffic light in Boston’s South End. Hernandez already was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole after being convicted in the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, but a conviction in the double murder case would have given the former Patriot two additional life sentences while providing closure to the two victims’ families.
So why was Hernandez acquitted of a crime that many assumed he committed? Lindsey Stringer, the jury’s forewoman who read the not guilty verdict to the court, told The Boston Globe that the jury didn’t necessarily believe Hernandez was innocent, but that it found issues with the credibility of witnesses and believed the prosecutors didn’t meet a “burden of proof” for a first-degree murder conviction.
“I want to be very clear that a verdict of ‘not guilty’ does not mean that we declared Aaron Hernandez innocent,” Stringer told The Globe. “There were basically differences of opinion on the level of potential involvement (in the double murders).”
Among Stringer’s other revelations were that many in the 16-person jury (12 jurors and four alternates) weren’t familiar with Hernandez, while some didn’t even know he was serving a life sentence for murdering Lloyd. That allowed Stringer and the jury to take an impartial look at Hernandez’s case, and her group found enough problems with witness testimony — namely that of “star witness” Alexander Bradley, who reportedly was in the car with Hernandez at the time of the murder — to avoid a conviction.
“I really wanted to believe that every person coming through that courtroom as a witness was telling the truth,” Stringer said, “… And I don’t think that was the case for several witnesses. But I’ll never know.”
Thumbnail image via pool photo by Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe
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