In the end, the detail after detail that the prosecution provided convinced the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Hernandez murdered Odin Lloyd. Jurors spoke after the verdict with one juror leading the discussion and indicating that the testimony of Robert Kraft was critical as Hernandez would not have known the time of death given the jury never leaned it after eight weeks of testimony.
Prosecutor William McCauley, made a very passionate closing a statement linking each piece of evidence and its significance to the jury over the 8 week trial, with 139 witnesses called and over – exhibits.
Here are some of the facts that may have convinced the jury to return a verdict of guilty.
Hernandez went to pick Lloyd up at about 2:00 am the night of the murder. Clubs and bars were closed; Lloyd did not appear dressed to go out.
It was urgent according to Hernandez’s texts for Wallace and Ortiz to come up to go out with him. Hernandez ordered Ortiz and Wallace to go out with him that night and made plans on Father’s Day, texting many times from the South Street Cafe.
Video showed with Hernandez leaving his home with a gun and entering his home with a gun. The video surveillance also showed him apparently checking the seat when getting out of the cars minutes after the murder. McCauley argued that he was looking for shell cases from one of the shots fired from inside the car as the medical examiner testified that one of the shots was consisted with it being fired from inside the car.
It likely was the combination of Hernandez having the gun, ordering Ortiz and Wallace to accompany him, his complete control as exhibited through the text messages, his behavior in ordering Jenkins to get rid of the box and false statement to Kraft that left the jury convinced of his guilt.
Hernandez’s defense argued that Ortiz and Wallace acted crazy and killed Lloyd suddenly without Hernandez knowledge and that he only covered up the crime because he did not know what to do. This argument likely failed because the video of Wallace and Ortiz getting out of the car after the murder, looked like they were simply following Hernandez’s every move. It did not appear as though they were acting crazy, but the look on Ortiz’s face appears to be one of shock, he walks slowly into the house.
The cross examination of the defenses PCP expert discredited him; the expert, did not offer any conclusion or solid basis to conclude that anyone was acting under the influence of PCP. His answers were evasive and did not provide a strong enough basis for the jury to credit that the murder was a sudden act of rage from Wallace or Ortiz.
The case does not end with the verdict; there will be an appeal, to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. One of the major issues on appeal with be that Judge Garsh, struck the testimony of the expert from Glock, Aspinwall, identifying the murder weapon as a Glock in the video. The judge allowed part of his testimony while excluding others parts, finding that it was proper for him to testify that the back strap but could not consider his testimony regarding the trigger lock and front strap. The defense would assert that his entire testimony was improper and may be there strongest grounds for appeal.
During closing argument, the defense referenced his testimony that had been struck from evidence, reminding the jury to disregard this evidence. I think the reference to the testimony during closing may help the defense argue that it was not content with a jury instructions, requested a mistrial and that the error prejudiced the outcome of the trial. The defense could argue that asking the jury to ignore powerful and incriminating testimony was unfairly prejudicial warranting a new trial.
Given that many of Judge Garsh’s rulings benefited the defense, it is difficult to see the SJC overturning the conviction. I thought Garsh’s ruling were extremely fair to both sides. She was very thoughtful in each of her rulings citing the case law to the lawyers when ruling on motion.
Other grounds for appeal likely would involve the Judge’s decision regarding the Motion to Suppress Evidence along with the admission of statements from the defendant’s jail house calls into evidence. As a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer, I have enjoyed watching the trial and plan to create a post highlighting the helpful part for defense attorneys as there were numerous examples of effective cross examination from both sides.
To read about the discussion of the jury, you can see the Video on the Yahoo.com.