With no smoking gun, circumstantial evidence is playing a large role in the state's case against Aaron Hernandez for the murder of Odin Lloyd. And what better way to convince jurors that Hernandez is capable of shooting his friend than by introducing evidence that he shot a different friend just four months earlier?
Yesterday, prosecutors filed a motion to introduce to trial the story of Alexander Bradley, a former friend and associate of Hernandez's who was found shot in the head after the two visited a Florida strip club on Feb. 13, 2013. Here is how the filing describes what happened:
Vicious and telling, if it happened. Oh, we know Bradley was shot in the face all right, and found in an alley behind a John Deere store; it's all in the 911 report. But because of his refusal to cooperate with police, we have only his word on who the shooter was. Hernandez was never charged with a crime, though he is now being sued by Bradley.
All of this is old news, and prosecutors' attempts to introduce Bradley's story were rebuffed at a pretrial hearing last year, when the judge ruled that Hernandez's "prior bad acts" were not relevant to the alleged murder of Odin Lloyd, and that jurors would be biased by hearing of them.
But Yahoo's Dan Wetzel has a great explanation of why prosecutors believe they can get Bradley's story introduced now: because the defense has gone out of its way to emphasize Hernandez's friendship with Lloyd as evidence that he couldn't be guilty.
You can't continue to claim Hernandez wouldn't shoot a friend, the prosecution is arguing, when it's alleged that he has, indeed, shot a friend. That isn't just some random "prior bad act." It's the rebuttal of a direct argument at the center of the defense. In this case, it's a known "falsehood," the state is claiming.
"The defendant himself has 'opened the door' to this topic," the filing from deputy district attorney William McCauley reads.
"[The defense] has repeatedly emphasized to the jury that [Hernandez] could not have been the person who murdered Lloyd because [Hernandez] and Lloyd were 'friends.' …Indeed, [the defense] made this argument one of the cornerstones ... and has cross examined witnesses suggesting that the two were friends."
The prosecution argues that this defense strategy was enacted because they knew the Bradley incident, which would make a mockery of it, was inadmissible.
"The [defense] apparently believed that [it] could purvey what [it] knew to be a falsehood to the jury – i.e. that the defendant would never harm his friends – with complete impunity."
There is no timeframe for the judge to rule on whether Bradley's shooting will be admissible. Even if it is, the jury will not hear about the 2012 drive-by double murders in Boston for which Hernandez will stand trial after this one.