Prosecutors described in court yesterday a tattoo they say Aaron Hernandez got in early 2013, which they claim depicts the gun and five bullets Hernandez allegedly used to shoot and kill Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado outside of a Boston nightclub in 2012.
According to the Boston Globe, prosecutors said Hernandez’s tattoo depicts the same type of gun used in the shooting. They also said he has another tattoo with a semi-automatic handgun, a bullet, and a puff of smoke, which they say represents an alleged incident in which Hernandez shot his friend Alexander Bradley in the face and left him for dead in Florida. (Bradley survived, and will likely testify against Hernandez in this trial, as he was in Hernandez’s Toyota 4Runner the night de Abreu and Furtado were murdered.)
Hernandez allegedly got a third tattoo at the same time as the two handgun tattoos that says “God Forgives”. Assistant District Attorney Patrick Haggan reportedly said that Hernandez’s tattoos are “in fact an admission by Mr. Hernandez.”
In a filing yesterday, Hernandez’s attorneys strongly rebuked the prosecution’s attempt to include the tattoos as evidence :
The displays and mention of tattoos on the Defendant’s arm may easily cause the jury to base their decision on bodily artwork unrelated to propositions in the charged crime of this case, in addition to providing a misleading distraction from the elements of the case. The tattoos generally relate to a non-specific revolver and shell casing, and were acquired along with other tattoos across other body areas.
Hernandez’s attorneys cite a Massachusetts appeals case in which a guilty verdict was overturned because a defendant in a robbery case was not allowed to show his tattoos in court as evidence that he was not the perpetrator. The robber was not described by witnesses as having tattoos (he was wearing a short-sleeve shirt), and the defendant had evidence via medical records that he had a large forearm tattoo at the time of the robbery. He was not allowed to show his tattoos in court, because the court could not decide whether it was testimony (to which he was not required to do), or evidence. The appeals court determined that the tattoos should have been considered evidence, and the display of them could very likely have swung the verdict. His conviction was overturned.
However, Hernandez’s attorneys, led by Casey Anthony’s attorney Jose Baez, argue that this case is not precedent, because Hernandez’s tattoos were immaterial to the alleged crime, and that he had them done after the shootings.
In Hernandez’s previous criminal trial, in which he was convicted for the murder of Odin Lloyd, potential jurors were asked in voir dire if they had biases against people who have tattoos.
Hernandez’s attorneys submitted a motion yesterday to also exclude any mention of their client’s conviction for murder during the impending double-homicide trial. Their arguments for exclusion are that the Lloyd murder took place after de Abreu and Furtado were shot in Boston, and that “the crimes have substantial similarity in the essential elements of the charged crime, and thus are substantially more prejudicial than probative.” (Read into that how you will.)
The trial is scheduled to begin in February 2017, but Hernandez’s attorneys are requesting the trial be pushed back to September because they have “not had sufficient time to prepare this case for trial.” They argue that the prosecution has had four years to build their case, and that the burden of evidence presented by the prosecution in discovery is so extensive that they need additional time to get through it all.