Criminal Justice

Former football star Aaron Hernandez killed 2 strangers over a spilled drink, prosecutor says

Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez pleaded not guilty Wednesday to what a Massachusetts prosecutor described as drive-by ambush slayings of two strangers in 2012 over a spilled drink at a nearby Boston nightclub. A third man was wounded in the shootings.

Discussing the case at a Suffolk Superior Court arraignment today, assistant district attorney Patrick Haggan said Hernandez became angry after victim Daniel Abreu, 28, accidentally bumped into him at the edge of the dance floor, according to the Boston Globe and the New York Daily News.

Hernandez, whose drink partially spilled due to the impact, told a friend he was “being targeted and disrespected,” Haggan said. When Abreu and four other men left the club, he followed them, pulled up next to them on a South End street and fired all five shots from a .38-caliber pistol, the prosecutor said.

“I think I got one in the head and one in the chest,” Hernandez allegedly told a friend in his vehicle afterward.

He is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Abreu and Safiro Furtado, 29. District Attorney Daniel Conley has said none of the victims had criminal records or gang ties.

Hernandez, who appeared in court today, was already being held without bail in another first-degree murder case over the 2013 slaying of Odin Lloyd.

Attorney Charles Rankin represented the former Patriots tight end and sought without success to have his client’s handcuffs removed at the hearing. He also objected to the prosecutor’s description of the case, saying: “This is not supposed to be a spectacle, a sporting event,” according to the two newspapers.

Trial Magistrate Gary D. Wilson called Haggan’s description “the usual presentation that I’ve heard at least 1,900 times before” and said he doesn’t control who attends a court hearing, the Globe reports.

While special arrangements were made to allow media coverage, “I cannot envision a proceeding where the press would not be invited to attend,’’ Wilson stated. “We do not operate behind closed doors in our system of justice in the United States, let alone in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This is an open proceeding.’’

See also: “Like other athletes, Aaron Hernandez had a criminal defense lawyer while still in college” “Investigators seek tattoo artist info in murder cases against former football star Aaron Hernandez”

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