BOSTON – Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, already serving a life sentence for a 2013 murder, was acquitted Friday in a 2012 double slaying prosecutors said was fueled by his anger over a drink spilled at a nightclub.
The former New England Patriots tight end choked back tears as the verdicts were read in court. A few moments later, he looked back at his fiancee and nodded somberly as relatives of the victims sobbed loudly. A defense attorney hugged him.
After six days of deliberations, the jury found Hernandez not guilty of first-degree murder in the killings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado but convicted him of unlawful possession of a gun. The judge sentenced him to an additional four to five years in prison, separate from his existing life sentence.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley said the victims’ families were devastated by the verdicts and by the defense’s portrayal of the men as “gang bangers” and “drug dealers.”
“These were two hardworking, humble, Cape Verdean immigrants,” Conley said. “It was unnecessary, and it was wrong, and it shouldn’t have been done.”
Conley said prosecutors and the families take solace in the fact Hernandez is serving a life sentence in the killing of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. Prosecutors in the double murder trial weren’t allowed to mention his conviction in Lloyd’s case.
Conley said one of the victims’ relatives said, “At least he’s not walking out the door today.”