Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was cleared on Friday of double murder charges by a Boston jury as he remains imprisoned serving a life sentence without parole for a third murder charge stemming from a June 2013 slaying.
The Boston Globe reports that Hernandez was acquitted of the double murder of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in a drive-by shooting that occurred in the early morning hours on July 16, 2012.
Hernandez was also acquitted of witness intimidation in the shooting of the star prosecution witness, Alexander Bradley, in Florida in 2013.
According to the Globe, Hernandez was convicted on one charge of illegal possession of a firearm, and he was immediately sentenced to serve four to five years in prison on that charge.
Ronald Sullivan, a Harvard Law School professor who is a member of Hernandez’s defense team, told reporters, “It was the only fair and just verdict. Mr. Hernandez was wrongly accused of these crimes.”
Sullivan said that Hernandez broke down in tears upon hearing the verdict and was relieved as well.
“The actual perpetrator of this crime was given immunity by the Commonwealth. He [Hernandez] was charged with something that someone else did,” Sullivan said.
“We hope that the public will now see Aaron for who he is — a very good young man who happened to hang out with a really bad guy in Alexander Bradley,” Sullivan added.
Relatives of the victims, who were present in the courtroom for the verdict, declined to give comment to reporters, but one yelled “he got away with murder!” as they stepped outside the courtroom.
Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said that while the prosecutors respect the jury’s verdict, “we investigated thoroughly and fairly and in our minds it points inescapably to Aaron Hernandez…Alexander Bradley … did not commit the crime. The only one responsible was Aaron Hernandez.”
Conley was also critical of the defense for suggesting that de Abreu was a drug dealer and for describing Furtado as someone who fired back during the fatal confrontation.
“Everything we know about these two hardworking humble Cape Verdean immigrants,” Conley said. “They didn’t deserve that. That was entirely inappropriate in my mind. It wasn’t necessary. It was wrong and it shouldn’t have been done.”
Even with Friday’s acquittal, Hernandez will not be a free man. He is currently serving a life sentence for the June 2013 shooting death of Odin L. Lloyd.
According to the Globe, Hernandez hugged his defense attorneys before being led out of the courtroom and escorted back to prison.
Read more at the Boston Globe.