Emotional Start to Murder Trial|of Ex-Patriots Star Aaron Hernandez | Courthouse News Service
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Emotional Start to Murder Trial|of Ex-Patriots Star Aaron Hernandez

FALL RIVER, Mass. (CN) - At the start of the Aaron Hernandez murder trial Thursday, prosecutors highlighted the evidence that places the former Patriots tight end at the scene of the crime, while the defense claimed he had no motive.

Arrested in June 2013 for the execution of Odin Lloyd, 27, that same month, Hernandez's rising star in the National Football League has been nailed at Bristol County jail where the 25-year-old has been held without bail for this trial.

The courtroom was calm, almost easy-going.

Hernandez's mother, Terri Hernandez, had freshly painted red nails that punctuated her hand gestures as she spoke to those around her and often touched her short black hair.

She sat behind Hernandez in the first row of the gallery, alongside Hernandez's fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, and his older brother, DJ Hernandez.

Across from Hernandez, wearing a dark suit and chewing gum while leafing through papers, Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward sat, in the front row on the right side.

Shaneah Jenkins, Shayanna's sister and Lloyd's girlfriend, sat with Ward.

Opening statements began promptly at noon.

With a photo of Lloyd displayed on the desk where Hernandez sat, Bristol County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Bomberg went through the victim's life, starting from his birth in the Virgin Islands to his death as a semipro football player for the Boston Bandits.

Hernandez kept his eyes off the photo of Lloyd on his desk, remaining focused on Bomberg and the jury.

Detailing how Lloyd met his girlfriend, and subsequently Hernandez, Bomberg painted a picture of Lloyd as Hernandez's "bluntmaster," or the person who always rolled the marijuana joints they smoked when hanging out.

The prosecutor spoke with his fingers pressed into his thumbs, his hands continuously bobbing up and down in front of his chest.

Bomberg introduced the other players: Carlos Ortiz aka Charlie Boy and Ernest Wallace aka Fish, Hernandez's childhood friends who were allegedly with Lloyd and Hernandez the night Lloyd was murdered; Hernandez's cousin, Tanya Singleton, who gave Wallace a ride to Georgia after Lloyd's death; Hernandez's fiancee, who faced perjury charges for lying to a grand jury and disposing of evidence.

As he went through, minute by minute, Lloyd's last night alive, Bomberg showed the jury video surveillance footage from multiple locations.

At 2:30 a camera outside Lloyd's home recorded Hernandez picking him up at 2:30 a.m., a time, Bomberg noted, that no bars or clubs would be open. About an hour later, Hernandez's own home security system captured Hernandez returning with what Bomberg claims is a gun.

The prosecutor also displayed snippets from texts between Lloyd, Hernandez, Wallace and Ortiz, as well as maps that show Hernandez's location throughout the evening via cellphone GPS triangulation.

Bomberg focused on the route Hernandez took, no doubt calling to memory places the local jury knows: Blue Hill Express gas station, the Weston tollbooth on the Massachusetts turnpike, a cellular tower in Attleboro.

As Bomberg described the locations of the six gun shots that killed Lloyd, Ward wiped away tears, rose from her seat and let the woman seated beside her take her hand and guide her out of the courtroom.

In the row she left, one woman makes the sign of the cross, another wraps her arms around the woman next to her. Others tremble and look on with red, glassy eyes.

As Bomberg spoke about Hernandez arriving home, now missing the side-view mirror on the driver's side to his rented Nissan Altima, Hernandez licked his lips.

Bomberg finished by telling jurors how wheel and shoe impressions at the scene of the crime match the car and Air Jordans Hernandez used that night.

Defense attorney Michael Fee took a different approach. "As soon as they found out that Aaron Hernandez, the celebrity football player, the New England Patriot, was a friend of Odin Lloyd's, Aaron never had a chance. It was over," his opening statement began.

"The evidence will show the investigation was sloppy and unprofessional. What about the facts that showed Aaron's innocence? What happened to those when they were collected during the investigation? Well, the evidence will show they were ignored or they were twisted in order to fit the story they wanted to tell you today."

Fee argued that Lloyd was a family man and generous friend. He claimed Lloyd was Hernandez's friend and potential brother-in-law.

Ultimately, Fee said Hernandez had no motive to kill: "Why would Aaron Hernandez do this? He had the world at his feet."

The attorney acted magnanimous as he acknowledged that his statement would not reach the same depth that the prosecution hit. "Now, I'm not going to talk to you as long as the prosecutor did," Fee said. "We understand that we're about to start a long trial and you're going to have to sit through it, and we thank you for that."

Echoing Judge E. Susan Garsh's notes to the jury before the trial began, Fee advised them to "keep an open mind."

"If you reach conclusions today based on what you just heard, you're no better, no different than the police and the prosecutors who brought Aaron here in the first place," Fee said. "You're jurors. You have the ability to evaluate the evidence. You come with an open mind. Give us a chance to show you the truth."

Opening statements concluded at 1:30 p.m.

Two witness testified after a lunch break: Lorne Giroux, Lloyd's employer who owns the landscaping company where Lloyd worked, and Matthew Kent, the high school freshman who found Lloyd's body.

Giroux described Lloyd as the kind of man who was always early for work. He also told of how Lloyd wore a tie to his job interview, which was "unusual" for someone applying to a laborer position.

Kent talked about how he discovered Lloyd after taking a shortcut home from a gym through the industrial park. Kent was about 20 feet away from Lloyd's face-up body when he asked if everything was OK. He ran to get help after receiving no response.

The trial is expected to last six to 10 weeks.

After it concludes, Hernandez faces a separate, unrelated trial on two counts of first-degree murder for the July 2012 killings of two men in Boston's South End.

The New England Patriots play the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday at the Super Bowl.

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