The opening statements of Aaron Hernandez's murder trial began Thursday and prosecutors came out swinging with glaring circumstantial evidence against the former NFL star.
Bristol County prosecutor Patrick Bomberg told the jury that a marijuana joint found next to a murdered Odin Lloyd had both Lloyd's and Hernandez's DNA and that a footprint found at the June 17, 2013, crime scene matched sneakers worn by the ex-New England Patriots tight end, as reported by the Boston Globe.
Bomberg said that on that day, Hernandez and two associates drove Lloyd “to a secluded, isolated area in North Attleborough, a town where Odin Lloyd knew no one but the defendant and the defendant’s fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins. There Odin Lloyd was shot six times. He was killed and he was left in a secluded area, as reported by the Boston Globe.
Hernandez's attorney, Michael Fee, maintained his client's innocence, declaring in his opening statement: “Aaron Hernandez is an innocent man. Aaron Hernandez is not guilty.”
Fee contended that the criminal investigation was “sloppy and unprofessional” and the evidence collected by police “should have led them in another direction.”
Fee addressed the prosecutor's DNA evidence as evidence that the ex-NFL star was with Lloyd, but that it doesn't prove that Hernandez killed him.
“Mere presence is not enough in our system,” he said, according to the Boston Globe. “We can’t be convicted of a crime just because we hang with the wrong people or are in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Presiding judge E. Susan Garsh told the jury Thursday that prosecutors aren't required to prove that Hernandez pulled the trigger, murdering Lloyd, but that he "knowingly participated" in the homicide with the intent to cause murder.
Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-pro football player, was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancée at the time of his death. His mother, Ursula Ward, and other family members were in the court for the murder trial's opening statements Thursday, as was Jenkins and Hernandez's brother, D.J. Hernandez.
Aaron Hernandez also faces separate charges stemming from a 2012 double homicide of two men in Boston.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Steven Senne, Pool)