Hernandez Attorney Blames Drive-By on Star Witness

Photo by Jeffrey Beall
Photo by Jeffrey Beall

BOSTON (CN) – Defending the football star turned convicted killer against his second murder rap, an attorney for Aaron Hernandez told jurors Wednesday that the real perpetrator of a 2012 fatal drive-by is the commonwealth’s star witness.

Already serving a life sentence for the unrelated murder of Odin Lloyd, 27-year-old Hernandez began a trial this morning for a shooting in Boston’s South End that resulted in the deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.

In his opening statement this morning, Suffolk First Assistant District Attorney Patrick Haggan painted a picture of the victims as young immigrants who ran afoul of Hernandez on July 16, 2012, when they decided to spend a night off from work out on the town.

In the basement of the club Cure, Haggan said an altercation erupted with Hernandez over a spilled drink.

Hernandez, the star tight end for the New England Patriots, had been at the club all of 10 minutes when he allegedly followed de Abreu, Furtado and their three friends out of the club.

As the five immigrants waited at a red light in their BMW, the prosecutor said, a 2006 Silver 4-Runner pulled up. Haggan said Hernandez leaned over his friend in the driver’s seat and opened fire.

The prosecutor described Hernandez as a paranoid man who misread the accidental drink spillage in the club as yet another attempt by someone to challenge and disrespect him.

“The seeds for this murder were planted months if not years before,” Haggan said. “In the months before this moment, the defendant would express the fact that he felt tried, that he felt disrespected, that he felt threatened whenever he went out. He thought everybody around him except those he knew were the police.”

Haggan told the jury that the friend driving Hernandez that night, Alexander Bradley, will recount the callous shooting firsthand.

The court heard a starkly different account of the shooting, however, from Hernandez’s attorney.

Jose Baez said de Abreu and Furtado are dead because of a drug deal gone bad with Bradley, a known drug dealer.

During the nine minutes Hernandez spent at Cure, Baez said, he grabbed a drink and asked a security staff member to take a photo of him with a fan. Baez claimed that Hernandez left the club without incident.

“There are no witnesses to the supposed altercation between the victims and Hernandez,” Baez said.

Baez also argued that there is no solid evidence that links Hernandez to the crime.

Prosecutors began calling witnesses after the defense cast off one of the 16 selected jurors after learning that the juror personally knew a Boston police officer who the commonwealth might call to testify.

The first two witnesses, Sofia Furtado and Neusa Abreu, each disputed the characterization of their respective brothers as drug users. Both said that their brother did not own a gun.

Sean McCann, who made the 911 call after coming across the shot-up 2003 BMW, took the witness stand next. Aside from the describing the scene of the shooting, McCann said that he had seen Hernandez earlier in the night “just hanging out.”

Just before adjourning for the day, the prosecution called taxicab driver Robert Lunetta, who also described the scene of the shooting.