NC asked: “Who was the person that commented on this site that the prosecution was gumming up this case? Who said that the judge was going to direct a verdict?” I have to plead guilty to both charged.
NC had chided me on other occasions when I suggested Judge Garsh would direct a verdict. He noted all the factors that tied Hernandez into the murder which could not be overlooked. He was right. Although in my defense, after hearing Hernandez’s girlfriend Shayanna Jenkins testify, I wrote her testimony was contrived and if the jury gets the case her lawyered-up testimony alone was enough to ensure Hernandez’s conviction.
Since you can’t argue with success there is no doubt that the prosecutors approach to the case was the right one. They must have known that from their prior dealings with Judge Garsh that throwing in everything they had was the only way to assure a victory. I noted in my post immediately before the verdict that if the jury kept in mind the big picture, which apparently it did despite closely examining all the bits and pieces of evidence, the result would be a guilty.
Congratulations to the prosecution team and the Massachusetts State Police for the win. I’m sure while the jury slowly sifted through the evidence they suffered as greatly as they did when the judge kept critical pieces of evidence from the jury’s view. In the end a skillful investigation and thorough prosecution secured the day. Congratulations also to the jurors who tried our patience but plodded on to the right result.
It is clear who the winners were. I do not include among them the family of Odin Llyod. Although they have seen the justice system work as it should, they lost their hardworking son, brother, cousin and family member whose humor and view of life brought them joy. This senseless tragedy never should have happened. It was preventable with a modicum of care and concern.
There were losers, though. Hernandez’s lawyers had a faulty defense plan. If Hernandez is to get a new trial it will be through ineffective assistance of counsel. It will not be because of any evidentiary errors because of the caution of the judge in admitting evidence.
One columnist wrote about his lawyer Michael Fee saying his “opening statement, though, marked the latest achievement of a top-of-the-line defense from a team of experienced and talented lawyers. Fee is a former federal prosecutor, and the lawyers assisting him, James Sultan and Charles Rankin, are both graduates of Harvard Law School.”
The achievement he was talking about was the assistance they were getting in having Judge Garsh exclude critical facts from the jury including the very poignant text message, a last desperate cry for help from Odin to his sister. Perhaps their success with the judge blinded them to the idea the jury was going to call it straight up and was not going to fall for the twisted defense they put up.
Lawyering by committee is always a mistake. Too many
cooks lawyers spoil the pot case. The best that can be said for the three lawyers is they acted like a stampeding herd of cattle kicking up as much dust as possible hoping it would blind the jurors as to the big picture. But like the cattle running mad, they were all over the place. They had no strategy to defend Hernandez, no grand plan. Perhaps there was no way to come up with one but rather than running all over the range they should have stuck to a definite trail.
Initially they attacked the investigation picking our minor points here and there to make it appear their defense was that Hernandez was not at the scene of the murder. They insisted the defendant and the victim were friends.
Then in the middle of the
stream trial they changed horses their strategy. They told the jurors he was at the scene of the murder. The jurors would later say that admission stunned them.
Having established the friendship that then backfired on them; no friend would drive away and leave his buddy lying in the dirt with six bullets in him in a secluded spot and do nothing about it for a day or so unless he was involved in the murder.
Perhaps there were just too many hurdles for them to get over but running back and forth between different lanes certainly wasn’t going to help win. This case was a classic second degree murder case. Hernandez’s actions were clearly that of a man heavily confused by his continual ingesting of marijuana. I wondered if defense counsel ever considered having him enter a plea to second degree.
The next in line of losers is Aaron Hernandez himself. He was on the cusp of being the best tight end ever in the NFL. Tough as nails and an immensely talented as a football player his future was assured. But he had major problems. The senseless and motiveless murder of Odin Llyod (never mind the other senseless shootings of which he stands accused) showed this. He was a wild drug addled young man who thought and acted like a young heavily addicted teenager. His mental powers were blunted and his thought processes blurred by his heavy marijuana use. Defense counsel never suggested it consider his impaired facilities.
Even worse than Hernandez is the National Football League and the New England Patriots. The trial showed that its drug policy is a farce. Hernandez was addicted to marijuana. He chain smoked it. The Patriots knew it when it drafted him. An article at the time in 2010 noted: “He had multiple positive tests, so he either had issues or he’s dumb. One or two tests? Fine. But four, five, six? Come on, now you’ve got an addiction.”
The Patriots signed him in June 2010. He played three seasons for them. After the third he got a 12.5 million dollar signing bonus along with a 40 million dollar contract. I find it hard to believe a man addicted in college and chain smoking marijuana six months after he signed the lucrative contract did not smoke marijuana while he played.
The biggest losers are those who should have seen he had problems but did nothing except hide it. None required he get the best professional help available. Bob Kraft, his staff, Bill Belichick, his coaches and team mates, Florida’s Urban Meyer, his coaches and staff, and many others associated with football who never stepped in to help him. None cared enough to stop him on his road to perdition. He was just another piece of equipment to be used and discarded; just a part of the herd.
One man, Odin Lloyd, is dead at his hands; perhaps two others as well. All this may have been prevented. Aaron Hernandez will rot in prison until he is an old man but more likely won’t make it that long. The Patriots have had the curtain torn away to show their true colors: Spygate, Deflategate and the Hernandez affair. And to think some still cheer for them. The NFL’s drug program and its asserted interest in the lives of its young men is shown to be a sham. This is a sordid tale that never had to have happen.
(Photograph of jurors by DOMINICK REUTER/POOL/AP)