Aaron Hernandez Trial (Odin Lloyd)

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Rovin Romine

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Edit - life stream trial feed: http://www.wildabouttrial.com/trial_videos/aaron-hernandez-live-stream/
 
(Also at NECN)
 
Edit - video clips from the trial, day by day.  Seems to be a pretty complete record: http://www.wildabouttrial.com/trial_videos/aaron-hernandez-trial-archive/
 
Edit - Brian Fraga from the Fall River Herald News does a great job of providing continuous trial coverage via his Twitter feed
@BfragaHN
 
 
***
We already have a couple of threads on AH.  
 
AH Questioned Thread (locked)
 
AH Charged Thread (locked)
 
AH Jailhouse Thread
 
I thought we'd benefit from a new thread for the trial.  It's always good to re-read and skim though.  (If memory served, when the news broke I thought there was a good chance it was BS because I figured no one in AH's situation would be so incredibly stupid.  Crimes of passion/obsession are one thing, but incompetent cold blooded murder is quite another.)  
 
There's been a lot of good analysis from different posters on all sorts of background information; this includes the charges, evidence, info on PCP, AH's history, Bristol CT, etc. 
 
***
News Sources:
 
Local Fall River crime reporter's twitter: https://twitter.com/BfragaHN
 
***
 
So far the trial's had one day of jury selection, called Voir Dire.  Prior to this, the judge made a number of pre-trial rulings, so attorneys for both sides have a reasonable expectation as to what's allowed to come in at trial and whats going to stay outside the jury's knowledge.  These rulings are done before the trial so that both sides can better select jury members.  (Meaning the attorneys don't have to question potential jurors on an issue they know is outside of the trial issues.)  
 
While these pre-trial rulings on evidence are "final," they can still be changed during trial itself, depending on what witnesses say and where the evidence goes.  
 
For example, a potentially huge issue is being reported by the Globe.  Shayanna Jenkins, AH's finance, has been meeting with prosecutors.  http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/01/09/eve-hernandez-trial-possible-game-changer/8CZkrqkQuNVQbq7QlPn7BO/story.html
 
While this sort of meeting does not suggest any particular outcome, it raises a very real question as to whether Jenkins stick by AH or break ranks.  Since she's been listed by the prosecution as a witness, Jenkins will have to testify if she's called to the stand; the manner and extent to which she testifies depends on a lot of particular legal issues.  Essentially, Jenkins can fully cooperate with the prosecution or turtle up as much as she can on the stand.  There's not really a solid middle ground.  
 
Jenkins' decision is going to be shaped by pretty powerful forces.  She's 25 and the mother of AH's child.  Testifying against your kid's father (who is facing life in prison) is no easy thing.  There's also the issue of what's going to happen to AH's money/assets - whatever plans she had for her child and herself are going to radically change if he's convicted.  Regardless of the likelihood of an acquittal or a conviction, Jenkins may think she's got a lot to lose by testifying "for" the prosecution.  On the other hand, she's facing perjury charges for lying about disposing of a box potentially containing the murder weapon.   Prosecutors still might be able to charge her as an accessory to murder, depending on the facts that come out at trial.   Plus there's the conflicting family pressure; Odin Lloyd was her sister's boyfriend.  Lastly, there's her individual psychology, sense of identity, cultural biases and personal moral scope.  People can do the "right" thing, or the "wrong" thing for reasons which are powerful and legitimate to them alone.  Is she a "stand by family no matter what" person, or a person who believes that any human can cross over into monstrousness?
 
Usually when the prosecution wants to induce this sort of witness to testify, there's an offer of immunity.  Meaning, the witness won't be charged for their role in events, so long as they testify fully and truthfully.  Immunity isn't set in stone though; it is usually offered depending on the value of the testimony.  (Sometimes, the fact that immunity was granted would make the desired testimony near-worthless, so immunity isn't offered.)  
 
Here, the factual value of her testimony is important.  While the gun might not be recovered, Jenkins' factual testimony would show the jury exactly how the gun could have been disposed of and explain why the prosecution can't recover it.  The prosecution can probably get those facts out of her whether she's a friendly or a hostile witness.  (Unless she's able to invoke her fifth amendment rights, which might protect her, but, in this sort of context, is usually as good as a factual admission for a jury.)
 
However, the emotional value of her genuinely testifying for the prosecution is potentially much greater than the mere facts.  Nearly every trial is a factual and emotional battle.  One can establish the likelihood of facts for the jury, but the jurors' basic emotional feelings of "guilt" can be amplified or diminished by what I think of as the emotional "judgement" of the testifying witnesses.  I say "judgment" because while regular witnesses can't offer their opinion on whether they think someone's guilty, juries can read between the lines.  For example, for some jurors, a mother willingly testifying against her child will color how they view the entire case.  
 
So, for this jury, Jenkins' most important answer could be in response to seemingly simple introductory questions: "Who are you? And why are you testifying today?"  Depending on the answer, the jury could see AH's finance, the mother of his child, essentially condemning him.  She could be seen as turning on AH because she's privately convinced of his guilt, and/or because she was a victim/stooge of her psychopathic husband.  A good prosecutor will use her appearance to draw a line between AH the murderer and the facade of AH the family man, in some ways rendering all his NFL glory hollow.  (There are ways for a good defense attorney to draw out some of the sting, but at the end of the day that sort of testimony isn't good for the defense.)
 
Oddly enough, if Jenkins tries to fight or deny on the stand, her appearance, in the hands of a good prosecutor, *could* be just as effective as if Jenkins "turned" on AH.  It's a tricker road though, and depends on Jenkins' personality on the stand.  It could involve trying to make Jenkins look like an accomplice after the fact due to her personal biases, or trying to make her look like a decent person who was fundamentally duped by AH.  Such a path may run the risk of making the prosecution look mean or vindictive.  It's usually far easier to call someone like Jenkins as a friendly witness and portray them as another victim who now knows the truth about AH. 
 
While the factual case against AH looks to be exceptionally strong already, Jenkins' testimony does have the potential to be the proverbial nail in the coffin.  One way or the other.
 

GeorgeCostanza

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Phenomenal as always RR. The whole situation is still pretty surreal to me. Punctuated by the fact you have to make a distinction as to which murder trial of AH's you are discussing.
 

Jnai

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I saw a local news broadcast the other day that strongly suggested the trial would be televised. Is that the case?
 

soxhop411

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Aaron Hernandez’s lawyers were willing to risk jail rather than turn over his cell phone, according to a Supreme Judicial Court ruling today.
Hernandez’s murder defense team told an appellate justice that if prosecutors “served the subpoena on the law firm, it would refuse to comply, subjecting itself to a finding of contempt.”
Suffolk prosecutors argued the phone contained information — in particular, text messages — that provided “evidence of a crime under investigation by the grand jury.”
The state’s high court ruled in favor of the defense, finding today that Suffolk County prosecutors improperly sought the subpoena of the cell phone in the double-homicide case he is facing in Boston.
The SJC found Hernandez had turned a cell phone over to his lawyers for “legal advice” in June 2013 — giving their possession of the device protection under attorney-client privilege — and therefore a Suffolk grand jury subpoena that sought to compel Hernandez’s lawyers to surrender the phone is invalid.
Hernandez is accused of three murders: Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in the South End on July 16, 2012, and Odin Lloyd in Attleboro on June 17, 2013. Hernandez was arrested for Lloyd’s murder before he was nabbed for the two prior killings, and the same legal team is representing him in both cases.
Last year, a Suffolk Superior Court judge had approved a grand jury subpoena compelling Hernandez’s lawyers to surrender the phone so it could be used in the double-murder case. Hernandez’s defense team appealed that approval to the state Appeals Court, which in turn bumped it to the SJC in April, and the judge stayed the order pending the appeal.
The SJC ruled in favor of the defense today.
SJC justices suggested Suffolk prosecutors were improperly using a grand jury subpoena to obtain the phone when they should have sought a search warrant for the phone’s contents.
The SJC noted that Suffolk prosecutors asserted they would “acquire a separate warrant before searching the contents of the telephone”; however, in the prosecutors’ motion seeking judicial approval for the grand jury subpoena, they indicated the “cell phone, specifically the information contained therein and accessible through a forensic examination of the phone, constitutes evidence that is essential to the successful completion of the ... ongoing grand jury investigation.”
The high court did not rule out prosecutors’ now obtaining a search warrant to acquire the phone’s contents for evidence.
Hernandez is referred to as “John Doe” in the Supreme Judicial Court’s 39-page decision and his name is impounded in the court record because at the time the case was brought he had not yet been indicted by the Suffolk grand jury.
Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley, and Gregg Miliote, spokesman for Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter, both declined comment. Defense attorneys James L. Sultan and Charles W. Rankin could not immediately be reached for comment.
A cell phone was also the subject of a legal battle in Hernanez’s Bristol murder case.
On June 18, 2013, a member of Hernandez’s defense team gave a cell phone to state police with a warrant probing Lloyd’s death. In October 2014, E. Susan Garsh, the Bristol Superior Court judge presiding over the Lloyd murder trial, ruled that the team had voluntarily given up that cell phone and it was therefore admissible as evidence in the case.
Jury selection in the Lloyd case is already underway and entered its second day this morning.
http://www.bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2015/01/aaron_hernandez_defense_team_willing_to_risk_jail_to_protect_his
 

soxhop411

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The chief prosecutor in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial, Bristol District Attorney Thomas Quinn, is operating under questionable legal status after Governor Charlie Baker on Friday rescinded all last-minute appointments made by former governor Deval Patrick.
Baker did not intend to include Quinn in the rescissions, but the secretary of state’s office, which oversees the official recording of gubernatorial appointments, said the governor did — whether he meant to or no
The move could complicate the prosecution of the high-profile Hernandez trial. Quinn has been coordinating the prosecution team in the days since Baker’s order — potentially without the proper legal authority.
“These are profound and important issues as to whether or not the case can proceed in face of the risk of a judicial action that could question the current authority of the prosecutor,” said Martin G. Weinberg, a veteran Boston criminal attorney. 
 
He called the situation “fascinating.”
The problem began Friday when Baker sent a one-sentence letter to Secretary of State William Galvin’s office informing it that “any and all appointments” Patrick made after Dec. 25 are void. He cited a law that allows an incoming governor to pull back most gubernatorial appointments made by his or her predecessor within two weeks after they are made. Reversing last-minute appointments is not unusual, but doing it as an entire group — rather than person by person — is unconventional.
 
Patrick appointed Quinn on Jan. 2, six days before leaving office. Baker aides insist that Quinn is not covered by the law because Patrick appointed him as “acting” district attorney, and Quinn can be removed at any point before the next election, in 2016. They said there was no intention to remove Quinn at this point.
“Governor Baker agrees with Governor Patrick that Attorney Quinn should and will continue to serve as acting Bristol County District Attorney until such time that the Governor makes a final decision on this appointment,’’ Baker spokesman Tim Buckley said in a written statement. “Both the Patrick administration, the appointing authority, and Governor Baker have been clear that Mr. Quinn is serving in an ‘acting’ capacity, and as such is not subjected to Governor Baker’s order to rescind some recent appointments.”
Galvin disagreed with the Baker administration’s interpretation of Quinn’s status, saying there is no such title as “acting” district attorney. 
He also said Patrick’s letter appointing Quinn acknowledges that it is subject to the law that allows for Baker to cancel it. And, he added, that is what Baker has done.
“The letter speaks for itself,’’ said Galvin. “The governor’s letter last Friday states ‘any and all’ appointments.”
Jury selection began Monday in the Hernandez trial, in which the former NFL star faces charges that he murdered Odin Lloyd in June 2013. Hernandez and two other men are accused of driving Lloyd to an industrial park where he was shot multiple times.
Asked Tuesday about the disagreement between Baker and Galvin, Quinn did not directly address those issues. 
“My focus has been and will continue to be solely on the important day-to-day work at the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office,’’ he said in an e-mailed statement to the Globe. “As I have said all along, the decision is Governor Baker’s to make, and I fully respect that fact.”
The questions over Quinn’s status seems to have gotten caught up in Baker’s rush to make a sweeping decree that “any and all” of Patrick’s final appointments would be canceled, rather than individually.
Buckley said the governor wrote the “any and all” letter the day after taking office when his staff could not locate any background information about the appointments, and thus did not have sufficient information to decide on a case-by-case basis who stayed and who went. On Monday, Galvin’s office sent them the list of appointments.
But the quick move by Baker created several missteps. For one, Baker aides discovered this week that 57 of the 61 last-minute appointments were actually exempted from the law.
Additionally, Patrick’s appointment of incoming Attorney General Maura Healey to have the power to swear in her own staff on Jan. 21 was repealed. And the same power given to Supreme Judicial Court Justice Ralph Gants to swear in Healey was also pulled back. Baker quickly restored that power on Tuesday.
Patrick’s move to fill state boards and other positions at the end of his term was not unusual. In 2006, Mitt Romney installed over 200 mostly Republican activists and supporters in his final month in office.
Perhaps the most explosive move by an incoming governor came in January 1983, when Governor Michael Dukakis removed Edward J. King’s appointments to the Massport board. That gave Dukakis control of the powerful agency and was a political coup carried out against King, his Democratic arch-nemesis.
 
Baker’s revocation of the Patrick appointments has also riled labor leader and union members. Patrick appointed several of them to boards and commissions, but they were turned away this week when they went to the secretary of state’s office to be sworn in. 
 
http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/01/13/legal-status-hernandez-prosecutor-question/Qs2jUK8PUeKbkJB7n3GV4L/story.html
 
Can any SOSH lawyers chime in?
 

soxfan121

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Good job, good effort Charlie. Really getting off on the right foot.
 

OCST

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IDK if AH's defense can make any hay out of that, but I sure as hell would try. I don't do this kind of criminal work, but I could see some kind of motion to challenge the authority/jurisdiction of the prosecutor. It probably wouldn't work, but it would be a chance to work the ref by portraying the prosecution (justifiably) as a clown show.

RR, or someone else who defends serious felonies- would you do something like that, or would it backfire and piss the judge off?
 

Joshv02

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Quinn was reappointed Bristol Co. DA yesterday; there appears to be no question as to who the DA in Bristol Co is. (Quinn was an ADA anyway; it isn't like he is some dude off the street; he has authority to bind the Commonwealth.)
 

OCST

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Joshv02 said:
Quinn was reappointed Bristol Co. DA yesterday; there appears to be no question as to who the DA in Bristol Co is.
But there *could* be a real question re: the propriety of Quinn's acts in the few days between the new gov's recission and the (re)confirmation of Quinn as DA. Maybe nothing important happened in that time, and it's a real long shot (I think) that it would effect the trial, but it's an unforced error by the state.
 

PeaceSignMoose

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Joshv02 said:
Quinn was reappointed Bristol Co. DA yesterday; there appears to be no question as to who the DA in Bristol Co is. (Quinn was an ADA anyway; it isn't like he is some dude off the street; he has authority to bind the Commonwealth.)
 
My understanding of what has been going on down here is that Quinn was coordinating the case for the prosecution from the time that it started.  Sam Sutter had made it clear from the start that he was going to leave the vast majority of the litigating and coordinating of the process up to his 2 first assistants - Quinn and McCauley.  Hell, Sutter didn't even arraign Hernandez!
 
Edit:  Spelled McCauley the Scottish way.
 

Rovin Romine

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OilCanShotTupac said:
IDK if AH's defense can make any hay out of that, but I sure as hell would try. I don't do this kind of criminal work, but I could see some kind of motion to challenge the authority/jurisdiction of the prosecutor. It probably wouldn't work, but it would be a chance to work the ref by portraying the prosecution (justifiably) as a clown show.

RR, or someone else who defends serious felonies- would you do something like that, or would it backfire and piss the judge off?
 
The jury will never hear about it so you're just dealing with the trial judge.  I doubt it would produce any kind of instant relief, but if there's an issue there you'd want to raise at trial or via a motion to preserve it for appeal. Most judges understand when you float that type of argument (preserving a fringey issue for appeal), but none of them appreciate having their time wasted.  Also, you have to weigh when and how you present it, vis a vis any other more credible issues you might have.  (Never save your best argument for last.)
 
It's possible that the Governor will be able to make some distinction or clarification to give the Court something to hang it's hat on, should a ruling on the issue be needed.  
 
 
If Quinn's actions during the lag period were null and void, that would apply not just to AH's case, but to any activity that took place during those days. I doubt the Bristol Co. court system wants to vacate however many pleas were taken during those days - much less reschedule arraignments, let people out of custody, only to re-arraign them (or whatever the MA term is), etc. 
 

DegenerateSoxFan

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OilCanShotTupac said:
IDK if AH's defense can make any hay out of that, but I sure as hell would try. I don't do this kind of criminal work, but I could see some kind of motion to challenge the authority/jurisdiction of the prosecutor. It probably wouldn't work, but it would be a chance to work the ref by portraying the prosecution (justifiably) as a clown show.

RR, or someone else who defends serious felonies- would you do something like that, or would it backfire and piss the judge off?
This being a murder case, I'd probably raise it, but not make a huge deal out of it, just enough to preserve the issue for appeal. And I'd bet that an appellate court would deem it "harmless error" (a phrase that frustrates defense lawyers to no end on appeal, but almost certainly applicable here).

Lawyerly disclaimer: I don't practice in Massachusetts. However, having tried a few murder cases, I think most judges are more understanding when lawyers raise more objections than they might in less serious matters.
 

Rovin Romine

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Mild bump.  The AP is reporting:
 
 
On Tuesday, Bristol County Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh continued individual questioning to weed out potential jurors who have biases, hardships or other valid reasons not to serve.
Hundreds of people have already been excluded from a pool of more than 1,000.
One of the possible witnesses listed for the trial is Patriots coach Bill Belichick. There's no indication he would be called before the team's appearance in the Feb. 1 Super Bowl.
 
Belichick and Kraft are on the prosecution's witness list.  That means they can be called by the Commonwealth.  I don't know if they'd really be needed to testify or not.  
 
Some states allow the defense to call some prosecution witnesses under particular circumstances; but I can't immediately come up with any that apply here, mostly because we don't know for sure what the defenses' theory will be or how, exactly, other witnesses will testify.  Could happen though, if MA law allows.
 
Another thing to keep in mind is that if a potentially influential witness is going to testify "for" a side, but isn't going to put on important information, one side or the other could ask the judge to enter a stipulation (an agreement on a fact) into evidence, rather than go through the dog and pony show. Usually dog and pony favors the defense; the bigger, messier, and more confusing things are, the better.   Unless the prosecution is going to score some solid and clean points with Belichick or Kraft, it's something of a risk to put them on.  But maybe that's the same for the defense.
 
Assuming there's a closet or even casual Patriot's fan on the jury, imagine the impact if Belichick wins the Super Bowl, then a week later, during his otherwise boring testimony shoots AH a look of disgust and shakes his head.  
 

SoxinSeattle

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"You just won the Super Bowl. What are you going to do next?" "I'm going to be a witness in a murder trial!"
 

pjr

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https://twitter.com/WildAboutTrial/status/560816584630231040
Wild About Trial
‏@WildAboutTrial Juror that hasn't shown up is still missing. They are going through other candidates now. Stick with WAT for all the latest #AaronHernandez
 

pjr

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kim tunnicliffe ‏@KimWBZ · 29m29 minutes ago
Appears judge has gone back to voir dire in #AaronHernandez trial after 1 juror handed her a note, 2nd late in getting to court. #wbz

https://twitter.com/KimWBZ/status/560814061429211136
 

Rovin Romine

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OK.  Off to the races. 
 
When the jury is sworn, a number of things happen.  The most salient one is that basically, unless one side or the other does something pretty egregious, necessitating a mistrial, or unless the jury is tainted somehow (a rare rare rare thing), this is "it."  There's going to be a jury determination of guilt.  
 
If AH is found NG, he moves on to the next case and this one very likely isn't revisited.  While the Commonwealth can appeal, the grounds are limited.  
 
If AH is found guilty, he has the option of appealing (all criminal defendants in this type of case have the right to automatically appeal.)  However, the right to appeal does not mean there's an appealable issue.  About 80% of criminal convictions are upheld on appeal.  And the 20% that are reversed nearly always result in a new trial - not an acquittal.  On a murder case, the state will likely just retry and retry and retry until there's a final disposition.  
 
(http://www.courtstatistics.org is a good resource for people curious about the distribution of court cases in the US.)
 
It ain't over till it's over.  But odds are, this is it. 
 
***
No matter who you read, no matter what their take on the trial, remember there's always the "jury factor."  It's quite possible that everyone outside the jury can agree on one interpretation of events, but that the jury, limited to the evidence in front of them, paying close attention to the witnesses, will have a completely different interpretation of things.  Possibly the jury's take will be more accurate than the public's in a "knowing what actually happened" sense.  Possibly the jury's take will be more legally correct, in a "facts didn't prove the case" sense.  We'll see.  But the walkaway point is that one never really knows what will happen at trial. 
 

Omar's Wacky Neighbor

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Rovin Romine said:
No matter who you read, no matter what their take on the trial, remember there's always the "jury factor."  It's quite possible that everyone outside the jury can agree on one interpretation of events, but that the jury, limited to the evidence in front of them, paying close attention to the witnesses, will have a completely different interpretation of things.  Possibly the jury's take will be more accurate than the public's in a "knowing what actually happened" sense.  Possibly the jury's take will be more legally correct, in a "facts didn't prove the case" sense.  We'll see.  But the walkaway point is that one never really knows what will happen at trial. 
Why not just say "lone dingbat".
 
RR et al:  thanks tons for your insight on the process, and what we should be seeing/looking for.
 
Hoping my wife gets to see some of this, as 20 years ago she was on a NYC jury that put a guy away for murder on a drug deal gone bad.
 

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This prosecutor is terrible. Every other word out of his mouth is "um" "uh" or "er." Does he not know his own case? 
 

JohnnyK

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Buffalo Head said:
This prosecutor is terrible. Every other word out of his mouth is "um" "uh" or "er." Does he not know his own case? 
I thought the same thing, but my baseline is TV lawyers, so maybe I am expecting too much.
 
The audio quality of the stream is also horrible.
 

PeaceSignMoose

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Buffalo Head said:
This prosecutor is terrible. Every other word out of his mouth is "um" "uh" or "er." Does he not know his own case? 
 
 
JohnnyK said:
I thought the same thing, but my baseline is TV lawyers, so maybe I am expecting too much.
 
The audio quality of the stream is also horrible.
 
Not listening, so I have nothing specific to add, but I will say that Pat Bomberg is extremely well respected down here.  Maybe someone pulled the fire alarm at his house last night.
 

The Big Red Kahuna

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Hernandez can't stop bouncing around in his chair... you'd think his lawyer would put arm on him to stop or scribble a note... he's like RainMan. 
 

Buffalo Head

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PeaceSignMoose said:
 
 
 
Not listening, so I have nothing specific to add, but I will say that Pat Bomberg is extremely well respected down here.  Maybe someone pulled the fire alarm at his house last night.
He sounds like someone who has never done this before. Constantly fumbling over himself, stammering, correcting himself. If I'm a juror, this narrative is confusing and non-compelling. 
 

Rovin Romine

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Opening Statement from Prosecution:
 
Eh.  I'd give this somewhere between a 4 and a 6 out of 10 in terms of style.   It's probably more of an 8-9 in terms of convincing the jury AH is guilty; but not because of the opening itself.  
 
Caveats:  I didn't catch the very beginning of the opening, so perhaps my structural criticisms are off.  I also can't see the jury's reactions; sometimes juries really respond to a particular style, so you run with it.  (I also didn't see the voir dire, so I can't judge how this prosecutor may have interacted with his eventual jurors.)  Lastly, because we don't fully know the intended evidence and state of the witnesses, I can't comment on whether or not the opening is tactically sound (i.e., the choices made in what to bring up, when to bring it up, and what to emphasize, and what to ignore.)
 
From what I did catch, beginning with the "who is Odin Lloyd" bit, the prosecutor has great of command of the facts.  However, I wonder if this opening is too fact heavy and too linear; you sort of wonder where all the details are going at some point.  I prefer more of a loop structure - i.e., hitting the main points A,B,C, then go through in detail fleshing out A,a,b,c,B,a,b,c,C,a,b,c, then sum up with ABC.  It's called a "roadmap" in legal commentary.  But it's really just good storytelling.  From what I'm hearing, there's no referencing that simple structure/main points in the sea of detail. The prosecutor also probably could have better "tagged" the individual players - constantly refer to Carlos Ortiz as "one of the three shooters" or something like that.  He could have also referred to the Nissan as "the car Aaron Hernandez" rented.  Basically you tie culpability/relationships into the narrative.  Also somewhat surprising is the number of times he did *not* say "Aaron Hernandez."  That's the guy on trial.  His name needs to be all over the opening.  The "defendant" just does not cut it.
 
You can "win" in the opening statement, in terms of the jury having a clear picture of what happened - a skeleton which every evidentiary point at trial inevitably fleshes out.  If the jury has a kind of confused idea of which car was where and who did what and who was who, they've got more emotional and mental latitude to plug the trial evidence into somewhat random patterns.  Here, the prosecutor seems like he's going to get points because he can trot out dates and times off the top of his head.  In reality, no one on the jury is going to remember if the prosecutor said certain details like 9 am or 9:14 am.  What they should feel (from the prosecution's point of view) is that there's no question as to what happened.  *How* it's proven at trial is less important.  Prosecutors always promise X witness will show this and that - it's OK but not really necessary.  
 
Here, the opening is sort of a reflection of the case - lots of detail, lots of circumstantial evidence, sort of overwhelming.  But it's dry, and the best bits are just sort of "there" along with the unimportant bits. 
 
Court asked the Prosecutor to "start wrapping up" at some point - not a good sign that the litany of facts just continues after that.  The delivery got more streamlined after that.  But also a bit more confusing.  And he fumbled details at the end.  
 
Very weak closure.
 
 
***
Nice touch on the details for prepping the car for the Lloyd pickup - makes it look very deliberate.  Also, nice touch in mentioning video evidence - jurors will feel comfortable "relying" on that in the opening as they're starting to process the information.  
 
Huge minus for not emphasizing that AH's DNA was found on the bullet casing.  That should have gotten a 5 second pause and a repeat.  
 
 
Edit - saw the opening from it's beginning at http://www.wildabouttrial.com/trial_videos/aaron-hernandez-trial-archive/
 
I will now commit to giving this opening a 4.  No structure. No emotion.
 

jsinger121

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Buffalo Head said:
Wow, the difference between Fee and Bomberg is incredible. Hernazdez is going to walk.
 
I always thought he would possibly beat the Odin Lloyd murder but would be convicted of the South End double murder since the evidence was pretty weak in the Lloyd case.
 

Rovin Romine

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Defense Opening:
 
I'd give this a 4.  Better by contrast and a decent response, but a lot of missed opportunities.  I'm not sure the defense attorney did anything to alienate the jury (no fumbles) and he may have raised some doubt.  Overall it was somewhat inconsistent.  Perhaps a smokescreen opening was the best they could do.  
 
It's sort of dangerous not to commit early-on to a theory of what happened, if the prosecutors can put you at the scene of a murder.  AH has no burden to testify or explain what happened, but man, the jury's going to be asking why AH didn't say what happened that night.   Apparently he's willing to have his defense attorneys explain everything everything BUT the moment of the shooting.  
 
Now the defense can adopt whatever theory best fits at close, but they do it by forgoing honesty at the beginning.  If they commit to a unique scenario now, there's always the chance it gets destroyed at trial. Tough choice. 
 
***
Decent pacing and modulation.  Theme is AH was targeted by police because of his celebrity.  Evidence should have led in another direction; toward the two other men? (Makes no sense.)  Investigation was sloppy.  Evidence that showed AH's innocence was ignored or twisted.  Evidence will show AH didn't murder his friend, Odin Lloyd.   But not very fact specific. 
 
He did a nice job with speaking about the tendency of the jury to support the first story they hear.   Not bad, but not the strongest development of the theme.  
 
Brought out the constant renting of cars and loaning to friends - here's where the prosecutions lack of an "overall/simple" narrative can hurt them.
Brought out the video camera showing maybe something in AH's hand but not a specific gun. 
Says video recording is shows a lack of AH's guilty mind - meaning he wasn't doing anything wrong, otherwise he wouldn't have recorded himself.
AH voluntary contacted the Police.
AH could have destroyed video but didn't.
 
Decent piece on who AH is.  Grew up in Bristol, etc.  Football hero.  
 
AH lent cars, kept open homes; implication is that AH was just the generous guy and isn't responsible for the actions of those around him.
 
Carlos Ortiz and AH weren't very close. 
 
AH were best buds.  Phoned and texted all the time.  Smoked MJ together - OL was AH's supplier for MJ.  OL was known as "the blunt master."  AH and OL had stoned hooker evenings together.  AH and OL apparently were bastards to them?  Strongly suggested. 
 
Police influenced testimony of witnesses.
 
AH was eating dinner with friends?  Photo of AH in Providence?  (Was too happy a dude to kill someone.)
 
Wallace and Ortiz came to go clubbing with AH.  AH just decides to invite OL out on the evening of his death.  Intent to party?  OL started preparing for a late night out.  OL had two red bulls.  OL made calls around to try to see where late night parties were.  Guys go out to Dorchester.  Picked OL up at home and took off in general direction of AH's home (and "man cave"). 
 
No video of what happened at the shooting.   Prosecution will try to shock you.  Prosecution can't show who killed OL or why?  (Lame and dangerous - jury will sniff the weak argument and the swerve.)
 
Why was OL killed?  Why would AH do this?  No reason to.  Goes on about lack of motive for some time.  (Dangerous - see below.)  OL would have been brother in law.  AH had children.  
 
AH was with OL shortly before he was killed, but no evidence that AH killed him (or planned or instructed.)  "Mere presence is not enough."  (Dangerous.)
 
Prosecution goes first. Blah blah blah.  Standard close out.  Grandfather's watch example was pretty lame.  
 
***
Other thoughts in light of the defense opening:
 
Overall this was argumentative/interpretative.  Sounded like a closing, for all the repetitions of "the evidence will show."  Prosecution should have objected.  
 
This defense opening should serve as a warning that the State should always explain in their opening that they're putting their theory out there, that they don't know what the defense will say, so they won't be able to anticipate and address all points.  (Maybe I missed this.)  
 
Since the defense was obviously going to play up the football heroics, the prosecution should have addressed this at some point in their opening.  Instead, now the prosecution seems to have been more concerned with putting every smidge of evidence in front of the jury, at the expense of contextualizing that evidence. 
 
Raising the "no motive" issue is dangerous to the defense.  Could have opened the door to the other Boston homicides (excluded by the Judge.)  If I was the prosecution I'd revisit this ASAP. 
 
Post opening Judge then somewhat undercut the defense by instructing the jury on the actual elements of proof.  Makes the defense seem somewhat shady.
 

Shelterdog

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Rovin Romine said:
Brought out the video camera showing maybe something in AH's hand but not a specific gun. 
Says video recording is shows a lack of AH's guilty mind - meaning he wasn't doing anything wrong, otherwise he wouldn't have recorded himself.
AH voluntary contacted the Police.
AH could have destroyed video but didn't.
 
 
 
Didn't AH destroy his phone? Doesn't that come in now?
 

Average Reds

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Buffalo Head said:
Wow, the difference between Fee and Bomberg is incredible. Hernazdez is going to walk.
 
I don't think you understand how trials work.
 
Tell you what, I've already got $50 on this trial based on Hernandez being convicted.  (The loser of the bet makes a contribution towards the Jimmy Fund.)  I'm willing to do the same bet with you, if you're interested.
 

Rovin Romine

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Buffalo Head said:
Wow, the difference between Fee and Bomberg is incredible. Hernazdez is going to walk.
 
That's bold.  Don't confuse presence with substance.   Overall the prosecution has shown little storytelling skill, while the defense is talking about everything but the moment of the shooting - and not very consistently.   
 
My not so outrageous predictions:
 
At the end of the day the jury is going to believe that AH was with OL just before he was killed.  AH's attorney admitted as much.
 
The jury is going to want to know what happened at the moment of OL's death - who was where, who did what.  
 
Legally, the burden is on the state to prove AH killed or participated or organized.  The state can certainly get part of the way there, or perhaps all the way through the strong circumstantial evidence.  Legally, AH has no burden to testify as to what happened. Now it may be that the defense voir dired the living daylights out of the burden of proof, and this jury is primed to presume AH is innocent and the state needs to bring home the bacon.  (Although that wasn't a theme of the defense opening.)
 
 
However, it's very dangerous for the defense to give out tons of information about everything right up to the point of the shooting, before clamming up and saying "Neener neener - they have to prove it and I'm not saying."  Juries don't like inconsistency or "gotcha" tactics from either side.  IMOP, that's the main point the defense needs to address.  Maybe they do, maybe they don't.  Maybe they do it just by arguing pure legal standards to the jury.  Maybe they do it factually with some sort of quasi-alibi (doubtful).  However, I believe as a human matter, at some point AH's silence on the moment of the shooting isn't going to help him.  Especially in light of all the surrounding evidence.  
 
Much will depend on the co-defendant's testimony.  
 
Also, much will depend on the close.  If it's the same two attorneys, the defense clearly has an advantage.  But style only gets you so far.  
 
Maybe the defense pulls it out - or maybe the prosecution allows them to.  
 

Rovin Romine

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Shelterdog said:
 
Didn't AH destroy his phone? Doesn't that come in now?
 
I don't know.  Depends on the judge.  With the caveat that MA law may be different, usually the rule is that either side can't take undue advantage of a pre-trial ruling to exclude.  The defense can always point out that the State didn't meet their burden - so it's kind of a fuzzy line. Very fact and case specific. For example, if a witness does not testify to something because they're ordered not to by the judge, the defense can point out the lack of evidence, but the defense can't suggest the witness's testimony would have been helpful to the defense if they had been asked about that issue. 
 
Here, it seems that if the defense is going to make AH's "non-destruction of evidence" a theme of the trial, they run the risk of the judge allowing the phone in.  Similarly, if the defense harps on a lack of motive, they run the risk of the judge allowing some kind of testimony as to a possible motive (killing OL to silence him about the Boston double homicide.)  Although, as a practical matter, I'm not sure how the state would actually put that in front of the jury.  
 
Likely the defense will try to poison the jury by alluding to these issues a few times, without doing enough to have "opened the door." Also, a trial is a long process.  If one side consistently bucks the judge, there's the risk of the "straw that broke the camel's back" factor coming in.  
 
Also, "motive" isn't something the state has to prove.  So, depending on MA law, there may be specific rulings on when and how the defense can use "lack of motive" at trial.  Or the state may be able to preclude the defense from brining it up entirely.   I really don't know.  
 

Steve Dillard

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Rovin
OL made calls around to try to see where late night parties were. Guys go out to Dorchester. Picked OL up at home and took off in general direction of AH's home (and "man cave").
Getting close to opening the door to the "with NFL" text?
 
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