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Friday, June 21, 2013

Aaron Hernandez and the Murder of Odin Lloyd

     If there's one subject Americans are more interested in than crime, it's sports. A news story that features a current member of the NFL and the murder of another football player will automatically achieve high-profile case status. If the National Football League player becomes a suspect in the homicide, the story will attract even more media attention. In print and television journalism, the marriage of sports and crime comprises a union made in heaven.

     In 2010,  the New England Patriots drafted tight end Aaron Hernandez. Two years later, they signed him to a multi-million dollar, five-year contract. The deal included a $12.5 million signing bonus. From Bristol, Connecticut and of Puerto Rican descent, the 22-year-old played college football at the University of Florida. He recently purchased, from former Patriots player Ty Warren, a $1.3 million, 5,600-square foot North Attleborough mansion with a home gym and indoor swimming pool. North Attleborough, Massachusetts, a town south of Boston on the Rhode Island State Line, is  home to several Patriot players because of its proximity to Gillette Stadium.

     According to several news sources, a 30-year-old man named Alexander Bradley claimed to have been shot in the face by Hernandez at a Miami strip club. The incident, which was not reported to the police, allegedly happened last February. Bradley, who lost an eye, filed a civil suit against Hernandez on June 13, 2013. The plaintiff alleges that when Hernandez pointed the gun at his face, it accidentally discharged. Back in 2007, detectives in Gainesville, Florida questioned Hernandez about a shooting that occurred after Florida's loss to Auburn. Hernandez and a friend of his from Connecticut had been in a nightclub not far from the shooting. He was never a suspect in the case.

     On Monday, June 17, 2013, at five-thirty in the evening, a citizen came upon a body in an industrial park less than a mile from Hernandez's house. In speaking to reporters, the man who discovered the copse said, "I saw an African-American male, probably 25-35 years old, decently dressed. He was stiff and motionless. One of the police officers...said it looked like the guy had been shot somewhere else and dumped here."

     The body found in the clearing off John Dietsch Boulevard, was 27-year-old Odin L. Lloyd, a semi-professional linebacker with the Boston Bandits. Crime scene investigators found, not far from Lloyd's corpse, an Enterprise rental car with Rhode Island plates. The vehicle, a 2013 Chevrolet Suburban SUV, had been rented in Hernandez's name. Lloyd had been dating the sister of Shayanna Jenkins, Hernandez's girlfriend.

     Investigators have learned that on the night of the murder, Hernandez, Lloyd and two other men were drinking together at a bar in Dorchester. The men left the bar in a car driven by Hernandez. Later that night (early the next morning), three men were seen on a surveillance camera entering Hernandez's house. The men entered the dwelling not long after neighbors had heard gunshots around three-thirty in the morning coming from the Hernandez house. This has led detectives to theorize that Lloyd had been shot in Hernandez's dwelling then hauled to the dump site where the rented SUV was abandoned. Hernandez and the two other men then returned to the house in another vehicle.

     At 5:00 PM on Tuesday, the day following the discovery of Odin Lloyd's body, a dozen police officers arrived at Hernandez's home armed with a search warrant. Detectives with the Massachusetts State Police and the North Attleborough Police Department spent several hours inside the mansion. Later that evening, a police officer was seen carrying a box out of the football player's house.

     The authorities have not charged Aaron Hernandez with a crime, and have not classified him, at least publicly, as a suspect in Lloyd's killing. As of this writing, the police have not articulated the nature of Hernandez's relationship with the dead man. We don't know why the SUV rented in the NFL player's name was at the crime scene. Moreover, the medical examiner's office has not announced the cause and manner of Odin Lloyd's death. Because this is already a high-profile case, detectives will be under a lot of pressure to get results, and get them fast.

     On Friday, June 21, 2013, the authorities in Boston issued a warrant for Hernandez's arrest. He has been charged with obstruction of justice in the Lloyd case. According to reports, Hernandez destroyed the hard drive to his home security surveillance system. He also smashed his cell phone, and after Lloyd's death, hired a crew to clean parts of his house. Additional charges could filed against the professional football player.

     Police arrested Hernandez at his home on Wednesday, June 26 on the charge of murder. Homicide investigators believe that the suspect had brought in two of his hoodlum friends from Connecticut to  help him murder Mr. Lloyd. As for motive, Hernandez was angry at the victim after Lloyd spoke to a group of men in a bar. Apparently Hernandez didn't approve of these people. The day after the arrest, the Boston Patriots cut Hernandez from the team.

     It seems to me that Hernandez's attorney is in for a losing battle, particularly if there is DNA evidence, and the two thugs cut a deal with the prosecution. Perhaps the attorney, as a defense, should consider pathological stupidity.

     On June 27, news sources were reporting that detectives with the Boston Police Department were looking into a possible connection between Hernandez and a July 16, 2012 double murder in Boston's South End. Correla deAbreau, 29, and Safiro Teixeira, 28, both of Dorchester, were killed when someone fired into their BMW from a silver SUV with Rhode Island plates. Detectives believe the murders stemmed from a fight that broke out at Cure, a South End nightclub. Odin Lloyd may have had information regarding Hernandez's role in the double murder.

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