Prosecution rests in murder trial of ex-NFL star Hernandez

Thu Apr 2, 2015 3:29pm EDT
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By Daniel Lovering

FALL RIVER, Mass. (Reuters) - Prosecutors rested their murder case against former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez on Thursday, bringing to a close weeks of at-times gruesome testimony in a trial that has shaken U.S. professional sports.

Prosecutors say Hernandez, who played tight end for the New England Patriots, gunned down semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd in an industrial park near Hernandez's house in North Attleborough, Massachusetts, before dawn on June 17, 2013.

They called more than 120 witnesses to testify since the trial began in late January, including investigators and family members, and presented the jury with transcripts of text messages, portions of phone calls, and surveillance video to bolster their case.

But defense attorneys, who will begin presenting their case on Monday with closing arguments likely in the middle of next week, said in a court filing Thursday that the case is too weak to warrant a conviction. Hernandez, 25, has pleaded not guilty and faces possible life in prison.

On Thursday, Massachusetts medical examiner Dr. William Zane testified that Lloyd had six bullet wounds, including one in the back and two in the chest. He showed the jury the locations of the wounds by putting stickers on a mannequin.

"The gunshot wound to the left chest would be fatal," said Zane, the prosecution's final witness. He said the shot would have killed Lloyd in "seconds to minutes." He said two of the other gunshots also caused fatal injuries.

Prosecutors say Hernandez and two friends, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, killed Lloyd with a .45-caliber Glock handgun, after Hernandez and Lloyd had a disagreement at a nightclub two nights before. The weapon has not been found.

They presented evidence that the men picked Lloyd up in Boston and drove him to the industrial park where he was killed. They also played surveillance video from Hernandez's house that showed Hernandez holding what they say is a Glock handgun minutes after Lloyd's death.   Continued...

Former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez sits during his murder trial at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, April 2, 2015.  REUTERS/Steven Senne/Pool