BOSTON - A jury on Friday found former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez not guilty of murder in the 2012 shootings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.
Hernandez is already serving a life sentence for his conviction in the killing Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee. in June 2013. That verdict came on April 15, 2015, nearly two years to day of this latest verdict.
The Suffolk County jury convicted him of a single charge: unlawful possession of gun. The judge sentenced him to an additional four to five years in prison, separate from his existing life sentence, for that conviction.
This verdict could aid Hernandez's chances in an appeal of the Lloyd murder case. Hernandez's motive in that case was thought to be that he wanted to silence Lloyd, who had learned of the 2012 killings. Now that Hernandez has been exonerated in the double murder, doubt could be cast on his motive for killing Lloyd.
Jurors deliberated for approximately 36 hours before reaching the verdict on Friday.
Hernandez faced two counts of first-degree murder in the shootings of de Abreu and Furtado in Boston’s South End on July 16, 2012.
Hernandez’s friend Alexander Bradley claimed Hernandez became enraged after de Abreu bumped into him while dancing, spilling his drink. He said Hernandez later opened fire on the men's car as they waited at a stoplight.
Bradley also said Hernandez shot him in the face months later after he made a remark about the earlier shootings. Bradley lost his right eye in the shooting. Hernandez was also charged with witness intimidation in connection with Bradley's shooting.
Hernandez's lawyers said it was Bradley — an admitted drug dealer — who shot the men over a drug deal. The defense hammered at Bradley's credibility, citing his immunity deal with prosecutors to testify against Hernandez, his role as the driver of the car the night of the shootings and his criminal record. Bradley is serving a five-year prison term in Connecticut for firing shots at a Hartford nightclub in 2014.
Hernandez grew up in Bristol, Connecticut, and played for the Patriots from 2010 to 2012. About six weeks after Furtado and de Abreu were killed, Hernandez signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the Patriots and went on to play another season before Lloyd was killed. He was cut from the team shortly after he was arrested in Lloyd's killed in June 2013. He was not charged in the 2012 killings until 2014.
In his first trial, jurors deliberated for 36 hours over seven days before convicting him of murder.