Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez was found not guilty of two counts of murder on Friday for the death of two men in a drive-by shooting outside a Boston nightclub in 2012. According to CNN, he was found guilty of just one count: illegal possession of a firearm.
He had faced eight counts in all: two for murder, and a charge of witness intimidation for allegedly shooting his former friend in the face to silence him about the double homicide.
Even though he was found not guilty of these murders, Hernandez is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, the boyfriend of his fiancée's sister. His arrest came in the midst of a promising football career. He was a tight end with the New England Patriots.
Hernandez’s fiancee testified during the trial earlier this year, stating that she knew better than to ask questions of Hernandez in certain situations.
Jurors, who began deliberations last Friday, were told not to consider Hernandez's prior conviction in this trial, according to the report.
The prosecution's case in the 2012 shooting relied heavily on testimony from former friend Alexander Bradley, who claimed he was with Hernandez during the shooting. Bradley received immunity to testify, according to the report. He said under oath that Hernandez became angry that night when a man bumped into him and spilled his drink at the nightclub. Later that night, Bradley claimed Hernandez ordered Bradley to drive up next to that man's vehicle at a stoplight. It was then, Bradley testified, that Hernandez leaned across him to fire five shots into the car. Two immigrants from Cape Verde, Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu, were killed.
Investigators didn’t have any leads on the shooting and the case went cold, according to CNN. Meanwhile, Hernandez signed a $40 million contract extension with the New England Patriots.
Bradley and Hernandez had a falling out a few months later at a party in Florida. According to Bradley’s testimony, Hernandez grew paranoid, and thought that Bradley would not keep the shooting a secret. In early 2013, Hernandez shot Bradley between the eyes and left him for dead in a parking, Bradley testified. Bradley lost his right eye in that shooting.
Hernandez denied the murders. His lawyer told the jury that Bradley was the shooter, and that it was over a drug deal. The defense attorney repeatedly called Bradley a liar and a violent criminal during the trial. According to CNN, Hernandez's lawyer claimed Bradley made up the story to protect himself.