Prosecutors took nine weeks and called 131 witnesses to make their case against Aaron Hernandez. The defense called just three witnesses and rested its case today.
The infamous blue cotton candy Bubblicious—purchased at a gas station by Hernandez hours before Odin Lloyd’s death—proved to be the focal point of the day’s testimony, with two of the three witnesses being forensics analysts who examined the piece of gum left behind in Hernandez’s rental car, and the shell casing attached to it.
The .45-caliber shell casing is perhaps the prosecution’s most important forensic evidence. The casing was a match to others found near Lloyd’s body, and was found to have Hernandez’s DNA on it. Prosecutors argue that the DNA ties Hernandez to the crime scene—but the defense says it’s the gum’s fault. An Enterprise employee found both the shell casing and the chewed gum on the floor of Hernandez’s car, and used a piece of paper to pick them up and throw them out. The defense’s witnesses argued today that the gum contaminated the casing.
“The major donor on the swab of the gum matched the DNA profile of Mr. Hernandez,” Smith testified.
“Does DNA transfer from one surface to another?” defense attorney James Sultan asked.
“Yes,” Smith testified. She said it was “extremely likely” that the DNA from the gum could have transferred onto the shell casing. The .45 caliber shell casing was a match to the casings recovered at the crime scene.
The defense’s third witness was a doctor who testified on the effects of PCP; it is floating a theory where Hernandez’s co-defendants killed Lloyd while in a drug-induced fugue. It’s not a fleshed-out theory—there’s no evidence anyone was using PCP that night—but remember that the defense doesn’t need to prove anything, only to introduce just enough doubt. Accordingly, most of the defense’s heavy lifting was done on cross-examination, today’s witnesses were just to hammer home the ideas it would prefer jurors take with them into deliberation.
Closing arguments are scheduled for tomorrow and have been set for 90 minutes. After that, Hernandez’s fate heads to the jury.