Rumors about former NFL star Aaron Hernandez’s sexuality began surfacing in 2017 while he was on trial for the killing of two men in a drive-by shooting. According to Hernandez’s defense team, prosecutors were looking to call a witness to testify to the fact that Hernandez was gay.
“The prosecution was intending to introduce evidence that the shooting occurred — somehow — because Aaron was conflicted about being gay,” defense attorney George Leontire told Oxygen’s docu-series “Aaron Hernandez Uncovered.” “Because of this conflict, it caused him to be enraged, and somehow that was connected to the shootings of the victims, even though Aaron didn’t know the victims.”
Lead defense attorney Jose Baez also told “Aaron Hernandez Uncovered” that the prosecution was looking to speak with Shayanna Jenkins, Hernandez’s fiancée, so they could inform her of the witness testimony before she found out in court. According to Baez, the prosecution was hoping that by disclosing this information to Jenkins, she would turn on Hernandez and effectively ruin his defense.
When Baez spoke with Hernandez about the possibility of his sexuality being discussed during the trial, he was “very concerned” about how it would affect Jenkins.
Leontire echoed this sentiment, saying, “His biggest concern about his sexuality was how it would impact Shayanna and somehow diminish — in her eyes — the tremendous love that he felt for her. Here’s a man who happened to be gay who loved a woman.”
Baez told “Aaron Hernandez Uncovered” that when he explained the prosecution’s intentions to Jenkins, he couldn’t believe how “strong” she was and how well “she kept her composure.”
“Jose speaking to me about Aaron’s sexuality was very hard because I was confused. I still kind of am,” Jenkins said. “When you feel like you’ve kind of had it all with that one individual, it’s just something that took years to build, and now it’s completely breaking down. But I would not want him to go through anything by himself. I was the only thing that he had. Hurt or not — and I was hurt — I had to fight through it.”
Ultimately, the prosecution decided to abandon the narrative that Hernandez’s motive for the double homicide was somehow tied to his sexuality. In April 2017, he was acquitted of the two murders.
To learn more about Hernandez’s trial and fall from sports superstardom, watch “Aaron Hernandez Uncovered” on Oxygen.