As a young defense lawyer I had a case where my young client was arrested and indicted for possession of gaming apparatus. He was 18 years old and worked at a bowling alley. The bookie at the alley got tipped off that a raid was about to happen so he asked my client to watch his action while he went out to get something to eat. My client was behind the desk with all the gaming slips when the cops arrived. He really had no defense to the charges. He pled guilty and the ADA and I had agreed he would be put on probation for six months and the case dismissed.
The superior court judge rejected our recommendation and was determined to sentence my guy to jail for six months. All I can figure looking back over all these years is that he must have had a bad weekend betting and was mad at his bookie. But then, when he said that my guy was going to jail I was flabbergasted. Over and over I stood protesting his decision repeating myself trying to get him to change his mind. I refused to sit down or stop. I thought to myself the longer I can talk then the longer my client will not be put in handcuffs. I hated to see the kid’s face when that happened. I talked just to buy the kid some more time as a free person. I eventually so frustrated the judge he agreed to put him on probation.
I think of that when I think of the Hernandez trial. It seems to me that like me with the kid the prosecutor is doing everything in his power to delay the case going to the jury. Much of the evidence over the past days does nothing to advance his case but merely makes Hernandez look like a low life but not a murderer.
Friday, however, when I learned Hernandez’s girlfriend Shayanna Jenkins was to testify it piqued my interest. I figured this is a crucial point of the trial. If she doesn’t help the prosecutor’s case then expect it to end this upcoming week in Hernandez’s favor.
I watched it as it was live streamed. I kept in mind everything Shayanna says the defendant’s attorneys know about. I wanted to see if the prosecutor could trip her up.
She testifies about picking up a Toyota Camry for Hernandez. From time in late April when she did, she never saw it used. It sat in garage next to her car. She never asked why it was there.
She saw a weapon in the “junk draw” in the house. It was a black firearm. She never asked the defendant why it was there. She had great difficulty describing how big it was.
She seems unable to refresh her recollection ever after reading her prior testimony. She’s shown a picture of Hernandez which allegedly shows the .45 caliber murder weapon in his hand. She’s asked to describe what she sees in the picture. The judge sustains objection to her having to do it. She’s shown a .45. She testifies it is the same shape and color but she doesn’t know if it is the same size as the one she saw.
We see ten minutes or so of Hernandez smoking a joint outside his house around 9 p.m. the night of murder. Shayanna testifies that she and Hernandez went to the South Street Café in Providence, RI. They stayed there until somewhere between 12:30 or 1:00 am. Driving back both were intoxicated. Shayanna: “I was drunk.” Video shows them arriving at 12:39 am. Bo and Carlos, the two other guys indicted for the murder, were there at the house waiting for them.
The prosecutor asks a question about the day of the murder. Shayanna says: “hang on I got to get my days straight.” The morning of the murder she saw Hernandez, Bo and Carlos. She cooked them breakfast. They hung around the pool. They all looked all right. They left sometime later but she didn’t see the car they came or left in. Later that night she drove Hernandez to the police station after the police came to her house.
She asked Hernandez what was going on when the police came and he said he didn’t know. After dropping Hernandez off at the police station she went to meet Bo in Rhode Island. He was with Carlos. She gave him five hundred dollars at the instruction of Hernandez. She returned home.
Off and on during that time she was on the phone with Hernandez, Bo or Hernandez’s agent and later in the morning with her mother and sister. Hernandez got back from the police station and went to bed. When he woke up Shayanna’s only conversation with him was he asked her to wash his shirt.
It’s clear Shayanna remembers nothing incriminating. There’s a lot of smell around her testimony with all the calls early in the morning showing that something was afoot but Shayanna seems oblivious about all of it. She hasn’t helped the prosecution. Perhaps the prosecution is hurting itself.
Now I’m not there and I don’t know the full strategy of the prosecutor but watching today I’ll tell you his approach is tedious. To give you the flavor, it takes the prosecutor longer to get information from the witness describing how she drove from the Attleboro police station to Rhode Island than it would take to drive there. The prosecutor is putting the jury to sleep with irrelevancies.
As I said it seems the prosecutor is doing everything possible to delay the final verdict. This is not a good sign. Shayanna will be on the stand Monday morning. The prosecutor needs a big day if he is to pull this rabbit out of the hat.