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Aaron Hernandez Trial: Key Takeaways from Closing Arguments

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2015

AP Images

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:

Ted Daniel @tvnewzted

No surprise - Judge Garsh rules State has established enough to allow case go to the jury. She will not find AH not guilty on her own

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:

Jenny Wilson @jennydwilson

Sultan: "Let’s not kid ourselves, there’s been plenty of stuff out there about Aaron and about this case" Tells jurors to ignore it

Liam Martin of ABC Boston pointed out that Sultan argued police handled the case incorrectly:

Liam Martin @LiamWBZ

Sultan: Police picked a theory and went with it; tried to find evidence that fit that theory. "Like a mystery." #WCVB http://t.co/xfCzX6WiPy

Sultan also explained how Hernandez and Lloyd would spend time together, per Bob McGovern of The Boston Herald:

Bob McGovern @BobMcGovernJr

Sultan now discussing how Odin Lloyd and #AaronHernandez were friends and would "smoke marijuana together."

Bob McGovern @BobMcGovernJr

Sultan is describing how many times #AaronHernandez and Odin Lloyd hung out. Says they hung out a lot - were good friends.

Brian Fraga of the Herald News highlighted the defense's attempt to downplay some of the prosecution's theories of motive:

Brian Fraga @BfragaHN

Sultan: Does the prosecution expect you to believe AH spent next 6 months plotting to kill OL because he didn't say hi? #AaronHernandez

Brian Fraga @BfragaHN

Sultan: prosecution also suggesting maybe #AaronHernandez wanted to kill Lloyd because of night w/babysitter at flop house

Brian Fraga @BfragaHN

Sultan notes #AaronHernandez sent Shayanna text day after flophouse, using Lloyd's phone. Also tells Shay 'O took care of me'

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:

Travis Andersen @TAGlobe

sultan: any evidence .22 in woods connected to Lloyd's murder, or u just have to "fill in the blanks ... that's not proof beyond" reas doubt

Christina Hager of WBZ TV provided Sultan's summation of the investigation:

Christina Hager @HagerWBZ

"Apart from sheer ineptness, the investigation was infected with bias." #AaronHernandez defense closing argument

He also mentioned the presence of Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, per Victoria Warren of WHDH:

Victoria Warren @vwarrenmedia

Def:'Curiously prosecution never called 2 other people in car that night' (ref to Earnest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz) #AaronHernandez #7News

Victoria Warren @vwarrenmedia

Def: Why would #AaronHernandez choose to murder Odin Lloyd close to Hernandez home, leave evidence on body and bring 2 witnesses? #7News

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:

Adam Bagni @AdamBagni

"Ladies & gentlemen this is a terrible case..don't compound that tragedy by convicting an innocent man." #AaronHernandez

Prosecutor William McCauley immediately went back into the motive discussion, as illustrated by Wild About Trial:

Wild About Trial @WildAboutTrial

McCauley suggests #AaronHernandez was upset Odin wasn't more grateful he took him to the club, shouldn't have hung w/ other friends. -RK

Melissa Randall of ABC Providence showcased a common theme from throughout the trial that the prosecution carried into the closing arguments:

Melissa Randall @MRandallABC6

McCauley: Shayanna testimony - "he does what he wants". Heard throughout trial that AH is used to doing what he wants. #HernadnezTrial @abc6

Michele Steele of ESPN noted McCauley portrayed Lloyd as somebody who knew too much:

Michele Steele @ESPNMichele

Prosecutor argues motive - Lloyd knew too much about Hernandez' business: "Odin knew about the marijuana, the spot, the babysitter"

Steven Sanchez of the Taunton Daily Gazette said Hernandez was intently listening to the prosecution's final pitch to the jury:

Steven Sanchez @Chezsports

AH paying attention to McCauley. Reliving moments in his mind #AaronHernandez

Simon Rios of WBUR passed along McCauley's argument about a false alibi:

Simón Ríos @simonfrios

McCauley: How would #AaronHernandez now what time the murder was when speaking to Kraft after murder? He created 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:

Byron Barnett @Byron_Barnett

McCauley says Ortiz couldn't have fire shot. Says trail of shell casings begins at #AaronHernandez footprint.#7News

Kim Tunnicliffe of WBZ Radio spotlighted the prosecution, stating Hernandez specifically chose the location where Lloyd was killed:

Kim Tunnicliffe @KimWBZ

McCauley asks jurors what was the purpose of #Hernandez driving Odin Lloyd to an open field? Suggests it was ideal place to commit a murder.

McCauley also raised a point about Ortiz and Wallace that was captured by Maria Cramer of The Boston Globe:

Maria Cramer @GlobeMCramer

Why would #aaronhernandez let Wallace or Ortiz hold his infant daughter hours after he supposedly witnessed them shoot a man, McCauley asks.

Daniel provided the comments about the alleged involvement of Shayanna Jenkins, Hernandez's fiancee, and the weapon:

Ted Daniel @tvnewzted

McCauley: "There is evidence of Shayanna Jenkins taking the gun (murder weapon) out of the house" "The gun goes out in the box"

Kevin Armstrong of the New York Daily News noted another focus of McCauley:

Kevin Armstrong @KevinGArmstrong

Prosecutor telling jurors "not to buy" the PCP testimony from yesterday. "Maybe there was a fox hunter in the neighborhood, too."

Kevin Armstrong @KevinGArmstrong

McCauley: "There was a fox in the neighborhood that night... maybe a fox hunter shot Odin Lloyd."

Legal analyst Jeffrey Evan Gold wondered if the well-packaged closing would be enough:

Jeffrey Evan Gold @jeffgoldesq

pros McCauley in #AaronHernandez doin great job of weaving the evidence for this jury, exactlly what he needs to do, but will it be enough?

Steele provided the closing statement from the prosecution:

Michele Steele @ESPNMichele

Prosecutor: "Circumstantial evidence yes, but other evidence should convince you, beyond a reasonable doubt, he committed this crime"

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.

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