A jury has found former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez guilty of first-degree murder in the 2013 slaying of Odin Lloyd in Massachusetts. The verdict came in on the morning of April 15 after 35 and a half hours of deliberations.
The verdict will automatically be appealed.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Hernandez Will Spend the Rest of His Natural Life in Prison Minutes Away from the Patriots Stadium
Hernandez, 25, was sentenced to life in prison, in accordance with Massachusetts State Law. The sentencing came shortly after the verdict was read.
Hernandez was sent to the MCI Cedar Junction prison in Walpole, Massachusetts, which is about seven minutes away from Gillette Stadium, where Hernandez was starring on the football field three years ago.
He showed no emotion as the guilty verdict on murder charges and gun possession charges were read out. According to CBS Sports, he appeared to mouth “wrong” toward the jury.
The judge thanked the jury for its service. Meanwhile, the former Patriots star’s mother, Terri, and his fiancee Shayanna Jenkins sobbed openly. On the other side of the court, Odin Lloyd’s family let out a huge sigh of relief.
Hernandez’s family left the court room before the sentencing. Lloyd’s mother made an impact statement before Hernandez received his sentence:
2. Lloyd Was Shot 6 Times in an Execution-Style Murder
Odin Lloyd was a semi-pro football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. Police said in court documents that Lloyd was driven to a field in a vacant industrial area by Hernandez and two of the football player’s friends, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, and gunned down. Lloyd, 27, was shot six times, police said.
Hernandez was arrested nine days after Lloyd’s death and charged with murder. Wallace and Ortiz were also charged with murder.
A jogger found Lloyd’s body the evening after the shooting in a remote area used as a processing area for construction materials, like dirt and gravel. Five discharged .45 caliber cartridges, a white towel, tire tracks and shoe prints were found at the scene, police said in the warrant. Keys to a Chevrolet Suburban registered to a rental car company were found in Lloyd’s pocket. Enterprise Rental told police that Hernandez had rented the SUV.
The murder weapon was never found.
Text messages from Lloyd’s phone showed that he messaged his sister, while in a SUV with Hernandez, Wallace and Ortiz. Lloyd said to her “Did you see who I am with?” She asked him who, and he replied “NFL” and in a second message, “Just so you know.” Earlier that same night, Hernandez had texted his friends, who live in his home state of Connecticut, telling them to come to Massachusetts, saying “You can’t trust anyone anymore.”
Prosecutors said during the trial that they believe Lloyd said something to break Hernandez’s trust, giving him a motive to kill. It has been speculated that Lloyd had talked about a 2012 double homicide that Hernandez was connected to and later charged in.
3. Jurors Heard From 135 Witnesses & Saw 437 Exhibits Over the 41-Day Trial
More than 135 witnesses were called and 437 exhibits were presented during the trial, mainly by the prosecution, which had to present a case based largely on circumstantial evidence.
The prosecution rested its case April 2 after calling 131 witnesses over nine weeks, according to the Boston Globe.
Hernandez’s defense team called only three witnesses, including two private forensic analysts, according to the Globe.
4. Hernandez Still Faces 2 Other Murder Charges
Hernandez still faces murder charges in the deaths of Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtardo in Boston in 2012. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to both murders. Prosecutors said they plan to move forward with those cases, despite the murder conviction.
Abreu and Furtado were killed in Boston’s South End on July 16, 2012. Abreu was shot in the chest and Furtardo was shot in the head. A third man was also injured in the attack.
Jury members were told about the two other murder charges by the judge after Hernandez was sentenced, according to WBZ.
5. Hernandez Was Among the Patriots’ Top Players
The guilty verdict completes the downfall for Hernandez from star tight end with a $40 million contract to convicted killer.
Hernandez, who played at the University of Florida, was drafted by the Patriots in 2010.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said the team was “duped” by Hernandez, according to the Boston Globe.