In two short weeks, the New England Patriots will take to the gridiron to start the 2013 National Football League season. The team has one of the most prolific offenses in the game today, but this year could be different. Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd have departed, and tight end Rob Gronkowski has endured countless surgeries during the offseason, which could leave him out for half the year.
Then, there is the saga of Aaron Hernandez, the Pro Bowl tight end of the Patriots. Hernandez became a security blanket for Tom Brady last year after Gronkowski went down. He had signed a lucrative extension, which could net him over $40 million over the life of the contract. Now, the tight end from the University of Florida may never see another dime.
Hernandez was indicted on a first-degree murder charge along with five weapons offenses on Thursday. The indictment was handed down by a Bristol, Mass., grand jury, who felt there was “enough evidence to constitute probable cause, or that the charges are reasonable based on the facts presented,” according to a CNN report on the proceedings.
Hernandez is being charged with the murder of his friend, Odin Lloyd. It is alleged that Hernandez and two associates picked up Lloyd early in the morning on June 17. Lloyd was shot execution style, and his body was found at an industrial complex later that morning. The prosecution has presented various evidence for the grand jury, but the murder weapon has still not been recovered.
Hernandez entered a plea of not guilty. The lack of a murder weapon could be one of the reasons that Hernandez’s defense team is confident in the eventual outcome. Michael Fee, one of Hernandez’s attorneys, went so far as to say he was pleased with the indictment, because it gives his client “a path to trial,” and that he believes a jury will find Hernandez “innocent.”
The details that have been released for public consumption seem to paint Hernandez in a bad light. His car was seen on numerous cameras on the drive back to his house. There is video evidence of Hernandez holding a gun in his home a short time after the murder occurred. Hernandez destroyed his cell phone, turned off his security system and told members of his family not to cooperate with police. In fact, one family member, Tanya Singleton, was also indicted for refusing to appear before the grand jury in the case.
Yet, with all of this, Hernandez’s attorney thinks this should be an easy case. That is because the defense feels that the prosecution’s case is based on mostly circumstantial evidence. Because no murder weapon has been produced, what should be the main piece of evidence is lacking. However, things might not be as easy as it sounds.
According to another CNN report, Carlos Ortiz, who is alleged to be one of the three men involved that fateful night, has reportedly told authorities that Hernandez was the shooter. He is not saying that he saw the shots fired, but rather was told by the third man, Ernest Wallace, that Hernandez gunned down Odin Lloyd. It is not known yet whether Wallace, who has been indicted as an accessory to murder, will testify against Hernandez at trial.