In the 10 days since the body of 27 year old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd was discovered at an industrial park about half a mile from the home of Aaron Hernandez, we have all been watching the story unfold. We first heard about the body itself, then we heard about a rental car attached to it somehow, then a damaged cell phone and destroyed video surveillance system. Finally we heard about an arrest warrant. An arrest warrant that we kept hearing about but didn't seem to actually exist-or at least nobody was in any hurry to execute it. Finally yesterday, we got what we've all been waiting for; an arrest and an arraignment, and what had been looking like a career criminal who had covered his tracks very well now begins to look like a man coming apart at the seams, and the courtroom battle between digital footprints and actual fingerprints (or a lack thereof).
It seems that over the past four months or so, Hernandez and his life overall has been spiraling out of control. This seems to have begun in February, when following an argument with friend Alexander S. Bradley at a strip club (Tootsie's) in Miami, he allegedly shot Bradley in the face while traveling together inside a rental car. Bradley lived, allegedly losing his right eye and a great deal of movement in his right arm as a result of the shooting. He filed a lawsuit in a Florida court last week, seeking damages from his former friend.
Following that shooting, Hernandez seems to have returned home to North Attleboro,where he continued his night life, frequenting Providence and Boston night clubs. He was involved in at least two separate incidents at two separate night clubs in Providence over the past two months, including one in which an associate of his allegedly threw a 22 caliber handgun under a nearby vehicle before running off. On Friday, June 14 Hernandez and Lloyd went out together to a Boston nightclub. There, Lloyd said something to someone that upset Hernandez, and apparently set this whole situation in motion.
Whatever Lloyd said, or whomever he said it to upset Hernandez and resulted in the two men getting into an argument that night. They went their separate ways that night, Hernandez apparently going home and thinking a great deal about the argument and situation as a whole. On Sunday evening at about 9pm, he sent two texts to unidentified out of state friends one that said "please make it back" and the other that said "Get your ass back up here". Roughly four hours later Hernandez met up with those friends, and began driving south to RI. At some point during the drive he changed his mind, and changed direction, heading for Boston. Along the way, they stopped and picked up two things-rolling papers, and an extremely important pack of blue cotton candy Bubblicious chewing gum. This was at about 2:10 am.
At 3am they picked up Odin Lloyd, who texted a family member a few minutes later indicating he was with the tight end, "just so they knew". Over the next five minutes after that final text, several workers at a nearby industrial plant working the overnight shift reported hearing a series of gunshots at some point. According to the prosecutor, two minutes after the final gunshots, Hernandez and his two friends can be seen on surveillance footage getting out of his car, two of them brandishing handguns that have not been found yet. One of those men is allegedly the very same man with the 22 caliber in Providence a few months ago. That night Hernandez disabled his video surveillance system, and the following day he returned the rental car.
Police have text messages, surveillance pictures showing Hernandez with a gun allegedly just minutes after a murder, and cell phone tower tracking to show Hernandez's movement. What they do not have, is a gun. In lieu of that however, they seem to have found a bullet casing which was found along with a piece of blue Bubblicious gum by the attendant who cleaned the car out after it was returned. What is most concerning however, is not what the prosecution said they had, but what they may have implied they had: a witness. Throughout the arraignment, the prosecutor recounted at least one conversation he alleges to have taken place inside the car during the ride to Boston. This could indicate that one or both of the two men with Hernandez during the shooting has flipped, and is working with police. You may notice that no station is reporting any other arrests connected with this one, yet there were three men there that night and two had firearms in the images the police claim to have. Obviously this would have huge implications in the case.
Hernandez sat in the court room, unemotional and stone faced throughout the hearing as the charges were read and his alleged crime was outlined for the court. Despite the lack of emotion from Hernandez however, there was emotion shown on both sides, as the family of Lloyd had to leave the courtroom during the prosecution's description of his murder. The fiance of Hernandez-and mother of his child-Shayanna Jenkins is also reported to have left the court room in tears following the hearing. Who could blame her? Just ten months ago her fiance signed a $40 million contract to play football for his home team, they had bought a large home where they were raising their child, and life was great. Within just about 6 hours yesterday, her fiance was in custody and being charged with murder, cut from that team, and may never return to that home. It's been a torrid fall from grace.
Contrary to my initial impressions of the case, Hernandez seems to be in a very bad situation. If this were 1980, he'd probably have gotten away with murder. But it's not, and it appears he was all but caught red-handed. It will be interesting to watch the case play out, as seemingly strong digital evidence combats a lack of physical evidence. One thing is for sure though, the Aaron Hernandez era is over in North Attleboro.
**BREAKING NEWS UPDATE**
Police in Connecticut, working with police from Massachusetts searched the Bristol, CT home of the uncle of Aaron Hernandez. I will keep you updated if they report to have found anything.