Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez witnessed the killing of Odin Lloyd in 2013 but did not commit the crime, his lawyer said for the first time Tuesday during closing arguments in the murder trial.
The admission by attorney James Sultan came one day after the defense rested its case, and as both sides presented their closing arguments.
Sultan spoke about Hernandez's decision-making as he told the jury to find him not guilty, per The Associated Press, via ESPN.com.
"Did he make all the right decisions? No," Sultan said. "He was a 23-year-old kid who witnessed a shocking killing, committed by someone he knew. He didn't know what to do, so he just put one foot in front of the other."
Per the AP, "Sultan pinned the killing on Hernandez's co-defendants, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz. Both men have pleaded not guilty and will be tried later."
Hernandez, now 25, faces murder and weapons charges in connection with Lloyd's death.
Holly Yan and Susan Candiotti of CNN reported Monday that the defense team called just three witnesses after prosecutors used 131 in recent months to make their case. Much of the evidence is "circumstantial," according to the report, and the case now heads to the jury.
Ted Daniel of Fox Boston noted Tuesday's session began with the judge confirming prosecutors had done enough to send the case to the jury:
Sultan told jurors they should not consider all of the outside talk about the case when making their decision, per Jenny Wilson of the Hartford Courant:
Liam Martin of ABC Boston pointed out that Sultan argued police handled the case incorrectly:
Sultan also explained how Hernandez and Lloyd would spend time together, per Bob McGovern of The Boston Herald:
Brian Fraga of the Herald News highlighted the defense's attempt to downplay some of the prosecution's theories of motive:
Travis Andersen of The Boston Globe showed how Sultan tried to explain the missing points in the case by saying the jury shouldn't have to connect the dots:
Christina Hager of WBZ TV provided Sultan's summation of the investigation:
He also mentioned the presence of Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, per Victoria Warren of WHDH:
Sultan went on to discuss a key image the jury viewed, as noted by Lindsey Adler of BuzzFeed News:
Adam Bagni of WJAR passed along the final defense statement:
Prosecutor William McCauley immediately went back into the motive discussion, as illustrated by Wild About Trial:
Melissa Randall of ABC Providence showcased a common theme from throughout the trial that the prosecution carried into the closing arguments:
Michele Steele of ESPN noted McCauley portrayed Lloyd as somebody who knew too much:
Steven Sanchez of the Taunton Daily Gazette said Hernandez was intently listening to the prosecution's final pitch to the jury:
Simon Rios of WBUR passed along McCauley's argument about a false alibi:
The prosecutor also tried to talk down thoughts of another person from the group committing the crime, per Byron Barnett of WHDH:
Kim Tunnicliffe of WBZ Radio spotlighted the prosecution, stating Hernandez specifically chose the location where Lloyd was killed:
McCauley also raised a point about Ortiz and Wallace that was captured by Maria Cramer of The Boston Globe:
Daniel provided the comments about the alleged involvement of Shayanna Jenkins, Hernandez's fiancee, and the weapon:
Kevin Armstrong of the New York Daily News noted another focus of McCauley:
Legal analyst Jeffrey Evan Gold wondered if the well-packaged closing would be enough:
Steele provided the closing statement from the prosecution:
With closing arguments complete, the case now moves into the hands of the jury. It's impossible to know how long it will deliberate. There's a mountain of evidence to consider after an extended case, featuring over 130 witnesses.
Hernandez faces a possible life sentence without parole if convicted of first-degree murder in the case.