Game within the Game: The real reason behind the Hernandez motion to dismiss

June 16, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

Good afternoon:

I watched the NBC livestream coverage of a pretrial motions hearing in the Odin Lloyd murder case. Aaron Hernandez, the former tight end for the New England Patriots is charged with the murder.

Lloyd and Hernandez were friends and Loyd was dating Hernandez’s fiancee’s sister. Hernandez and Lloyd were seen leaving a nightclub together late at night in downtown Boston in July June 2013 after spending several hours there. Accompanied by two of Hernandez’s friends, they left in Hernandez’s car with Hernandez driving.

Lloyd’s body was discovered early the following morning in an industrial park about a half mile from Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough, Massachusetts. He had been shot to death multiple times with a .45 caliber handgun.

While conceding that the evidence presented to the grand jury established probable cause to believe that Hernandez was present at the scene of the murder, the defense argued that the court should dismiss the indictment because the prosecution had persuaded the grand jury to conclude there was probable cause to believe he had committed the murder, as opposed to being an innocent bystander, by introducing evidence of other uncharged misconduct allegedly committed by Hernandez that would not have been admissible at a trial.

Reuters described the defense argument:

“This was, we submit, a deliberate campaign not to enlighten the grand jury about evidence which would help them decide who had in fact committed this crime, but to tarnish Mr. Hernandez, his character, his background in such a way that they would overlook the absence of direct evidence of culpability,” defense attorney James Sultan told a pre-trial hearing in Fall River District Court.

Game within the Game

The defense did not file this motion with any expectation of persuading the judge to dismiss the indictment. They filed it to discover how the prosecution intends to prove Hernandez engineered and committed the murder despite the failure of the police to recover the murder weapon and Hernandez’s apparent lack of a motive to kill Lloyd. Measured by that yardstick, the motion was a resounding success because the prosecutor spent about an hour detailing a web of circumstantial evidence against Hernandez, including an attempt by Hernandez to kill another former friend in Florida under nearly identical circumstances because the friend disrespected him by not picking up the bill at the nightclub where they were partying together. Hernandez drove him to an industrial park, shot him between the eyes and left him for dead. Unfortunately for Hernandez, the friend survived, although Hernandez was never charged. reports:

After taking under advisement defense motions on dismissing that murder charge and suppressing video evidence obtained by the prosecution, Judge Susan Garsh ruled that both sides should expect to start a trial on October 6, according to tweets from WPRI reporter Chantee Lans and Managing Editor of Massachusetts Lawyer Weekly David Frank, who were both covering today’s hearing.

This should be fascinating case to cover with good lawyers on both sides.

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