I have followed the Aaron Hernandez trial on Twitter at the hash mark #aaronhernandez. Three groups of people seem to be using it: those who know little about the trial but ask good questions; those who pose as knowledgeable but range from smart to pretenders; and the ham- and-eggers who waste everyone’s time with dumb comments.
The jurors are in their seventh day of deliberation having spent near 35 hours going over the multitude of evidence that was dropped upon them in the case. The jury watchers are getting impatient. One, a reporter, is suggesting that the judge light a fire under them by giving them a charge called the Tuey/Rodriguez telling them to get on with it since they are as well equipped to decide the issue as any group of 12 who will ever be assembled to do so.
The big problem with that suggestion is that there is no evidence such a charge is needed. That only should be given when the jury is deadlocked, that is, where the vote gets stuck at a specific number such as 9 to 3 and no one has moved from his or her position for a while. We learn that is the case when the jury advises the judge that they are at loggerheads.
Here, except for a note requesting a smoking break, there has been no word from the jury for about four and a half days of deliberation. That suggests the jurors are not deadlocked. What it does suggest is not known.
What we do know is that the up to Thursday morning last they did ask some questions. As I have mentioned before these were odd considering the defendant Hernandez is charged with murder. One related to the date he is alleged to have possessed .22 caliber ammunition which has no bearing on the murder and should never have been charged; the other, related to “constructive possession” of the murder weapon which brought a little joy to the defense team since it seemed the jury had taken the .45 caliber Glock out of the hands of Hernandez.
But there was another note from the jury that I’ve overlooked which related to it wanting to see a list of the exhibits. There are more than 400 of them including countless hours of video tapes that I assume are available for the jury’s examination. I’ve mentioned how the judge told the jury not to vote right off the bat (“not good to take a straw poll”) but to have a discussion first.
It seems then that is what the jury is doing. I’d guess it initially started off by general discussions to determine if everyone understood the judge’s instructions. They sought to get clarification on them with their questions. I have read that the judge gave a copy of her legal instructions to the jury. Reading through an hour and twenty minutes of legal explanations would also take the jury a significant amount of time.
So we have a lengthy trial, lengthy instructions, 131 witnesses, over 400 exhibits, and hours and hours of video tape. We don’t know at this point if the jury has even taken a vote. We do know that for a trial involving one defendant and one main issue this jury has reached the outer bounds of the time any other jury has taken to come up with an answer.
Some have written it shows a very conscientious jury that is taking its time going over the evidence. On the other hand it might show a jury that is not quite sure of what it should be doing. My initial reaction when the questions came in was it was confused.
Here’s what the prosecutor fears. That the jury doesn’t see the big picture: Hernandez invites his two friends up, he drives the car with them and picks up the victim Odin Llyod, he drives him to a secluded spot where he is murdered close by his house, he returns from the murder scene and for a day or two acts like nothing has happened, he has his girl pay off the others who were with him, his girl gives the most incredible testimony ever, and he lies to his associates at the Patriots about his whereabouts. Add to that his lawyer suggesting he was a 23-year-old man confused and in fear falls flat when a slight consideration is given to his occupation playing against the toughest men in sports.
The prosecutor must be convinced that the jury is examining each bit of evidence looking for something wrong with it. That is, it is looking at the trees and not the forest finding small blemishes here and there. These, which really don’t add up to a hill of beans, when considered without a view to the big picture over a long period makes the prosecutors case look weak.
Whatever is happening it seems today will bring some sort of news. Or maybe it won’t.