They went from weed acquaintances to best buds before getting embroiled in a heated courtroom battle. Who is Alexander Bradley, a man who considered himself to be former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez's best friend before the football player allegedly shot him in the head?
Netflix’s “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez” offers a deep dive into Hernandez’s legal woes and personal struggles, and one of those struggles was with Bradley.
As shown in the docu-series, Bradley testified that he and Hernandez first met over marijuana as Hernandez was finishing up college in Florida and preparing to enter the NFL. That means they likely met around 2010. He said he’d bring the troubled football star pot and they’d chainsmoke every day.
They soon became close friends — at one point even “best friends,” Bradley said, according to CNN.
But, by 2013, their friendship had apparently soured, so much that Bradley testified in court that Hernandez had shot him in the face, resulting in the loss of one of Bradley’s eyes.
Who is Bradley?
Bradley is an admitted drug dealer with a violent reputation and a criminal history, according to a 2017 Boston Globe report. Prosecutors in Hernandez's double murder trial called him a drug kingpin and gun dealer.
Dan Wetzel, an author and sports writer for Yahoo Sports told "Killer Inside" that he was "absolutely capable of killing Aaron Hernandez and Aaron Hernandez knew it. Bradley had guns, he had a crew, he bragged about the number of guys he'd be able to bring to a fight."
Bradley was no stranger to fights and, according to the docu-series, was once shot in the groin after getting into an altercation at a nightclub in Hartford in 2014. He immediately responded by running out to his car, blood dripping down his pants, before returning to the establishment and firing 11 gunshots into the bar.
Hernandez's defense attorney Jose Baez told "Killer Inside" that he was "probably the toughest person I've ever seen and i knew he was going to be a difficult witness to cross examine."
What happened between him and Hernandez?
Bradley and Hernandez were out in Boston together on July 16, 2012, the night that Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu were shot to death in a car. During Hernandez’s trial for their double murder in 2017, Bradley was the prosecution's star witness. He testified that one of the victims splashed a drink on both him and Hernandez at a club. Hernandez was so irritated, he said, that he had to escort the football player outside to calm him down.
While walking back to the parking garage, Bradley testified that Hernandez spotted the two men that spilled the drink on them and encouraged Bradley to follow their car. Bradley claimed he did so, only to witness Hernandez shoot at them after Bradley pulled up to their vehicle. Bradley testified that Hernandez fired five shots and when there were no more rounds left, he heard three additional clicks coming from the gun.
Hernandez's defense attorney Jose Baez, however, claimed in court that Bradley was the killer. He accused Bradley of knowing de Abreu and killing both men over a drug dispute.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this did not happen over a spilled drink. This happened over a drug deal,” he said.
Hernandez and Bradley’s friendship had blown up long before the 2017 testimony. In February 2013, the pair was visiting a strip club in Florida when Bradley was shot in the face. He testified that he fell asleep in a car and woke up to Hernandez pointing a gun at him, according to a 2018 Boston Globe report. The next morning, he was found bleeding in a parking lot. While he survived the shooting, he lost his right eye.
Bradley testified that Hernandez shot him hours after Hernandez expressed paranoia over getting caught for the the 2012 double murder. However, Baez revealed texts messages in the courtroom which suggested otherwise –– that Bradley may not have actually remembered who shot him.
Again, Baez pointed to a drug deal gone wrong.
"Aaron was telling us that there was a drug deal that was going on and it went bad and he was pissed at Aaron for vouching for these guys," Baez told the producers of "Killer Inside."
Whatever actually happened that night, former Suffolk County Prosecutor Patrick Haggan said it became turning point that led to distrust between the two men and specifically to the installation of a "very extensive survellience system" at Hernandez's home. Baez added that it also led to his former client buying an armored car and several firearms.
The prosecution in the 2017 double murder case relied heavily on Bradley's testimony but Baez successfully called Bradley's reliability into question during the trial, which ultimately resulted in Hernandez's acquittal. Baez pointed to the fact that Bradley's testimony gave him immunity, a deal Baez called "deal of the century," in court, according to the docu-series. He claimed Bradley's motive for testifying against his former friend was to protect the real murderer: himself.
In addition to testifying against Hernandez, Bradley also filed a witness intimidation lawsuit against him in 2015, which was settled outside of court, according to a 2016 CBS Boston report.
Where is Bradley now?
He’s in prison in Connecticut, according to the Department of Corrections' database. He is currently serving a five-year sentence for the 2014 Hartford nightclub shooting, according to the Hartford Courant. He was sentenced in 2017.
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