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Aaron Hernandez Murder Trial Set to Begin
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Aaron Hernandez's murder trial will get underway soon.

Summary: A former state and federal prosecutor offers his theory on the trial strategies for the upcoming Hernandez trial.

After a year and a half of waiting, former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez will have his day in court, according to Hernandez was arrested in June 2013 for murder. According to USA Today, he could face life in prison if convicted.


The jury pool contains thirteen women and five men. A twelve-person jury will be selected from the pool, with the remaining six jurors serving as alternates in the case. The jury pool is made up of jurors in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.

A judge previously ruled that items seized from Hernandez’s home would not be admissible at trial.

Although the case is a high profile one that millions will follow, Gerry Leone, a former Middlesex district attorney who is now a partner at Boston’s Nixon Peabody, has stated that both sides will treat the case as any other case that landed on their desks.

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Leone is both a former state and federal prosecutor. He was part of the legal team that prosecuted the shoe bomber in 2001.  Leone said that attorneys on both sides of a case must “focus on what is happening in the courtroom, not outside.”

In his experience, Leone explained that “external factors and coverage of a case are not what verdicts turn on.” Leone said that attorneys must focus on “the everyday presentation of evidence, and the jurors’ perception and acceptance of evidence” instead of outside influences.

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Of course, Leone noted that both legal teams, the prosecution and the defense, must be on guard for how media coverage could impact witnesses. Since the media has maintained an interest in the proceedings, witnesses may “appear to be acting or reacting differently from trial preparation, to the extent that they might be on TV coverage inside the courtroom.”

Hernandez entered a plea of not guilty in May of 2014.

When asked about opening arguments, Leone predicts that the prosecution will “open the evidence with a compelling and sympathetic witness,” who will “likely [be] a family member of Mr. Lloyd.” However, Leone does not expect the prosecution to get too bogged down in the details of the case. He explained, “I do not expect that the Commonwealth will offer in openings who the actual triggerman was; and only would do so during the trial if it becomes very clear through the evidence.”

After opening statements, Leone anticipates that the prosecutors will focus on efforts to “provide the jury with compelling facts and reasonable inferences” against Hernandez and his codefendants.

If the evidence is not clear, Leone expects the prosecutors to “rely on the theory of joint venture in pursuing verdicts against all three defendants.” The New York Post adds that the trial could go on for up to ten weeks.

Leone explains that the prosecution will emphasize the “theory of joint venture,” which is presence at a crime with an intent to commit the crime and substantial steps toward aiding, abetting or encouraging the crime. This also applies to conspiracy, which is the “formation of an agreement that the crime be committed, and a substantial step toward its commission.”

Hernandez was indicted as the primary shooter in the 2012 murder.

Leone’s opinion is that the defense has an uphill battle ahead of it. He said, “Even if Hernandez can present compelling evidence that a co-defendant pulled the trigger, how can he overcome [the prosecution’s] very broad joint venture theory?”

According to Leone, the defense would have to hope that the prosecution “can’t establish one of the elements of joint venture and murder beyond a reasonable doubt … or offer some type of proof.”


Photo credit: ABC News




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