Aaron Hernandez was acquitted Friday on charges that he murdered two men in a drive-by shooting outside a Boston nightclub in 2012. The jury found the former New England Patriots tight end not guilty on most of the eight counts he faced, including murder and armed assault.
The jury did find him guilty of illegal possession of a firearm, for which he was sentenced to serve four to five years in prison.
Hernandez, once a rising star in the NFL, is already serving a life sentence in prison for killing the boyfriend of his fiancee’s sister. That first-degree murder conviction was handed down by unanimous jury decision in 2015.
Though Friday’s verdict has no impact on that conviction, the Associated Press reports that emotions still ran high in the Boston courtroom. The wire service notes Hernandez wept quietly at the jury announcement, while relatives of the two victims, Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, sobbed before they were helped from the courtroom.
The prosecution’s case rested on the testimony of Hernandez acquaintance Alexander Bradley, a convicted felon himself, who alleged Hernandez killed the two men at a stoplight for spilling a drink on him earlier that night in the club, CNN reports.
Hernandez denied the allegations, and the Boston Globe says his defense team effectively hammered away at Bradley’s credibility on the witness stand.
“He was charged for something somebody else did, and that is a weighty burden for anyone to shoulder,” defense attorney Ronald Sullivan said, according to CNN.
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