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.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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