Defense on point in Hernandez trial – ABC News

Great trial lawyers are able to distill their arguments into a single phrase, and that’s exactly what the lead lawyer for Aaron Hernandez did Thursday in his opening statement to the jury.

Nearly two dozen times in a 48-minute presentation, attorney Michael Fee repeated the phrase “his friend Odin Lloyd.”

Seeking to plant the seeds of reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors that could lead to a not guilty verdict for Hernandez, charged with murder in the 2013 shooting death of Lloyd, Fee asked them again and again: “Why would he kill his friend Odin Lloyd?” It was Fee’s way of highlighting one of the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against Hernandez — the lack of any clear evidence of motive.

He described their friendship in graphic terms: “They partied together. They smoked marijuana together. Odin Lloyd supplied Aaron with his marijuana. They went to nightclubs together. They chased girls together.”

Fee offered specifics: Lloyd not only served as Hernandez’s marijuana connection, he also rolled the blunts that Hernandez preferred. “He was the bluntmaster,” Fee told the jury. He seemed to be saying that no stoner would ever consider a harming a supplier who could also produce the most exquisite of blunts.

He offered a vivid example of their partying: A few days before Lloyd was murdered, Fee said, Hernandez and Lloyd went to Rumor, a nightclub in Boston, and found a couple of “young women.” They drove the women to an apartment in Franklin that Hernandez kept and spent the night with them, according to Fee.

That’s not all. In addition to their friendship, Fee explained to the jury that they could easily have been brothers-in-law. Hernandez was engaged to Shayanna Jenkins, and the couple have a 2-year-old daughter. Lloyd was dating Shayanna’s sister, Shaneah.

Before Fee began his riff about the warm and fuzzy friendship of two young men, prosecutor Patrick Bomberg used dozens of security videos, text messages and phone records to show the jury how Hernandez orchestrated the evening that resulted in Lloyd’s murder. His opening statement may have lacked the drama and eloquence of Fee’s, but the career prosecutor produced a mosaic of sinister activities that will be difficult for Hernandez and his lawyers to dispel.

Fee’s opening statement, though, marked the latest achievement of a top-of-the-line defense from a team of experienced and talented lawyers. Fee is a former federal prosecutor, and the lawyers assisting him, James Sultan and Charles Rankin, are both graduates of Harvard Law School.

Before the trial began, Hernandez’s legal team succeeded in barring evidence that could have been disastrous for Hernandez. Responding to the lawyers’ detailed and authoritative arguments, Bristol County Superior Court Justice E. Susan Garsh told prosecutors they would not be permitted to use as evidence the ammunition found in Hernandez’s house that matched the gun used in the killing. And she eliminated fearful text messages that Lloyd sent in the moments before his death. Garsh also barred the use of evidence the police took from five mobile devices that belonged to Hernandez and eliminated any mention of the double murder charges against Hernandez that are pending in Boston.


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