Fall River, MA (SportsNetwork.com) – Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was found guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder in the June 2013 killing of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.
First-degree murder guarantees life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Twelve jurors, who deliberated for seven days, found Hernandez killed Lloyd on June 17, 2013. Lloyd, 27, was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee.
Hernandez showed little emotion as the guilty verdict was read. The jury also found Hernandez guilty on ammunition and gun possession charges.
Hernandez’s mother, Terri, and his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, embraced and cried at the announcement.
“I forgive the hands of the people that had a hand in my son’s murder, either before or after,” said Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward.
Prosecutors said Hernandez and two other men, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, drove with Lloyd to a North Attleboro, Massachusetts industrial park, where Lloyd was shot six times and left for dead. A jogger found Lloyd’s body less than a mile from Hernandez’s home.
However, the murder weapon was never found and prosecutors called 132 witnesses, including Patriots owner Robert Kraft, in an effort to prove Hernandez pulled the trigger on the handgun that killed Lloyd.
Hernandez’s lawyer, James Sultan, acknowledged for the first time during closing arguments that Hernandez was there when Lloyd was killed. But the attorney said the actual crime must have been committed by either Wallace or Ortiz, saying his client was a “23-year-old kid” who witnessed a shocking crime and didn’t know what to do.
The jurors said they were shocked by the defense admission that the former Patriots player was at the scene of the killing.
“Going by the law, we didn’t need the murder weapon,” one juror said.
Wallace and Ortiz, who were also charged with murder, have pleaded not guilty, and will be tried separately.
The Patriots released Hernandez following his arrest on the murder charge. In August 2012, Hernandez had signed a five-year contract extension with the Patriots worth up to $40 million.
Hernandez’s legal troubles aren’t over. In a separate case, he is charged with killing Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in a drive-by shooting on July 16, 2012.