July 1, 2015 / 8:39 PM / 2 years ago

Judge upholds ex-NFL star Hernandez' murder conviction

Former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez arrives in the courtroom at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts April 1, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

BOSTON (Reuters) - A Massachusetts judge on Wednesday rejected a request by lawyers for former National Football League player Aaron Hernandez to overturn his conviction for the 2013 murder of an acquaintance.

A jury in April found Hernandez guilty of murdering semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd at a North Attleborough, industrial park not far from Hernandez’s home.

The former New England Patriots tight end is awaiting a second trial in December on charges of fatally shooting two Cape Verdean nationals outside a Boston nightclub in 2012, after a dispute involving a spilled drink.

Massachusetts Superior Court Associate Justice Susan Garsh rejected a defense claim that the prosecution, which never produced a murder weapon and relied largely on circumstantial evidence, had failed to prove its case.

“The court finds that a rational jury could find that the Commonwealth proved every essential element of the crimes charged,” Garsh wrote. “The verdict rendered by the jury is consonant with justice.”

Hernandez, who was a rising star in the NFL with a $41 million contract, was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for Lloyd’s murder. The team cut him hours after his arrest on June 26, 2013, nine days after a teenage jogger found Lloyd’s body.

The jury that found him guilty of Lloyd’s murder was not told he was also awaiting charges of fatally shooting Daniel Abreu and Safirdo Furtado a year earlier.

Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Peter Cooney

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