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Jury begins deliberating Aaron Hernandez’s fate in double-murder case

April 7, 2017 GMT

A Suffolk jury began deliberating the fate of former Patriots’ tight end Aaron Hernandez this morning after more than a month of testimony in his double-murder trial.

“You may retire to deliberate,” Judge Jeffrey Locke said at 9:22 a.m. to the seven women and five men who will decide the case.

Hernandez is charged with the 2012 drive-by shooting of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston’s South End. He also faces three counts of armed assault with intent to murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, unlawful carrying of a firearm, and witness intimidation.

The jury heard testimony from a total of 70 witnesses over the course of 24 days of testimony and viewed 370 exhibits. Locke instructed them this morning on the verdict slip before sending them off to deliberate.

Before the jury entered the 9th floor courtroom inside Suffolk Superior Courthouse this morning, defense attorney Ronald Sullivan asked Locke to question the jury foreperson on whether she had been contacted by the media or anyone else after her name, he said, was widely shared on social media last night.

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Locke declined to question her separately, but added a question to the entire panel about whether they had been contacted by anyone in the media or any third party about the case. None indicated they had.

Lead defense attorney Jose Baez was a few minutes late to court this morning, arriving just after Locke took his place on the bench. Baez, well known for his successful defense of Casey Anthony against murder charges in Florida following the death of her daughter, made an appearance on FOX 25 this morning. While he did not discuss either Hernandez or Anthony, he did plug his new FOX show, “You the Jury,” in which he and other celeb lawyers argue civil cases and the audience votes on the verdict.

Hernandez is already serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole after being convicted in the 2013 murder of semiprofessional football player Odin L. Lloyd. That jury also consisted of seven women and five men, and listened to more than 130 witnesses and viewed more than 400 exhibits in the Bristol County trial. They convicted Hernandez after deliberating more than 35 hours over the course of seven days.

The former pro-bowler is set to appeal that conviction at a later date.