BOSTON (CN) – Though still serving life in prison for a separate murder, former football star Aaron Hernandez was acquitted by a jury Friday of a drive-by shooting that killed two people in 2012.
The 12-person jury of seven women and five men took six days to deliberate after a five-week trial in Suffolk County Court.
The Suffolk County District Attorney’s office was able to prove that Hernandez possessed a .38 caliber pistol without a license on June 16, 2012, but not that he was the one who pulled the trigger that night, killing Daniel De Abreu and Safiro Furtado at a traffic light in Boston’s South End.
Despite his acquittal, there was no celebration in the room. Hernandez teared up, as did his fiancée Shayanna Jenkins from four rows back in the audience, while the jury foreperson read off a series of not-guilty verdicts.
Meanwhile, roughly half of the family members of De Abreu and Furtado left the courtroom in tears before the full verdicts could be read aloud.
Judge Jeffrey Locke took the prosecution’s recommendation and sentenced Hernandez to 4-5 years in state prison on the firearm charge, to run separate from his current life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd.
A former tight end for the New England Patriots, Hernandez was charged with the murders of De Abreu and Furtado ahead of his unrelated trial for the 2013 murder of Lloyd.
As with Lloyd, prosecutors said that De Abreu and Furtado were killed because Hernandez felt they had disrespected him.
Hernandez’s former friend Alexander Bradley testified at the latest trial that he had been driving Hernandez’s 2006 4Runner on the night of the murder when Hernandez leaned across him and opened fire on a BMW in the road.
De Abreu and Furtado, two of the car’s five passengers, were killed.
Just minutes before the shooting, all of the men had been at the nightclub Cure in Boston’s South End.
No camera in the club captured in, but De Abreu was said to have signed his and Furtado’s death warrant by bumping into Hernandez, spilling his drink.
To lead his defense team, Hernandez tapped Jose Baez, the attorney who famously won the acquittal in Florida of accused child-killer Casey Anthony.
Baez told the jury to consider that Bradley was a drug dealer who carried out the shooting after a deal gone bad.
Bradley, who was the sole witness to the spilled drink, did not point the finger at Hernandez until after Hernandez was arrested for the Lloyd shooting.
In the months leading up to Hernandez’s arrest, Bradley says Hernandez shot him in the face, costing him his right eye, to keep him quiet.
Hernandez’s phone shows that he and Bradley exchanged hundreds of text messages about the 2012 drive-by between the Bradley shooting and Hernandez’s arrest.
In the Lloyd murder, the jury deliberated for seven days before convicting Hernandez.
Hernandez is serving a life sentence in connection to Lloyd’s murder at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts.