Sides offer divergent versions of events in Aaron Hernandez double murder trial
Immigrants Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado were oblivious to Aaron Hernandez’s celebrity when their worlds collided in a downtown nightclub five years ago, a Suffolk prosecutor said on the opening day of the blockbuster trial of the fallen New England Patriots star.
For that perceived slight, prosecutors say, Hernandez “wanted the victims to see what was coming” when he emptied a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver into Furtado’s head and Abreu’s chest.
“Yo, yo, what’s up now (racial slur)?” assistant Suffolk District Attorney Patrick Haggan said Hernandez taunted the men and their three friends until Furtado, 28, a former tour guide in Cape Verde, turned to look.
Hernandez opened fire with “deadly accuracy,” shooting him twice in the head and once in the shoulder, Haggan said. The defendant allegedly continued pulling the trigger even after his last two bullets struck de Abreu, a 29-year-old former Cape Verde cop, who sat at the wheel of the 2003 BMW his sister had lent him for the night.
As Haggan, in his opening statement, described Hernandez’s mindset leading up to July 16, 2012, the night of the murders, the then-22-year-old NFL player had been tormented for months by his paranoia, believing that he was being constantly “disrespected,” surveilled by people’s iPhones and followed by helicopters.
Family of the slain men, overcome with raw emotion, fled Suffolk Superior Judge Jeffrey A. Locke’s courtroom as Haggan laid out the gruesome and graphic fates of two men who were strangers to Hernandez. The prosecutor said both victims were stalked and “snuffed out in a hail of gunfire” because Abreu accidentally bumped into Hernandez while dancing at the Theater District’s Cure Lounge, spilled a drink on him and then smiled.
“To Aaron Hernandez, that smile said it all,” Haggan said during a seamless opening statement. “Aaron Hernandez was furious.”
Hernandez is accused of murdering Abreu and Furtado as they waited at a stoplight at Herald Street and Shawmut Avenue in the South End. Haggan said Hernandez fired from the passenger seat of an SUV while Alexander Bradley, the pal and pot dealer he’s accused of shooting seven months later, drove up beside the victims’ car.
“One thing I suppose will not be clear is why,” Haggan said. “No murder makes sense — and especially this one.”
Defense attorney Jose Baez made clear he would attempt to pin the cold-blooded murders on Bradley, the prosecution’s star witness. He called Bradley “a dangerous, drug-dealing killer” who took advantage of his client’s poor character judgment.
“My mother used to tell me if you lie down with crap, you come up stinking,” Baez said.
The jury of 16 seated to hear the case was reduced to nine women and six men yesterday after a potential police witness recognized a male juror, who Locke disclosed was a football coach. Four prosecution witnesses have already testified, including sisters of the victims and Sean McCann.
“Two guys shot, corner of Herald and Shawmut,” McCann, a 29-year-old passer-by, said in a frantic 911 call played in court. “I think one is dead ... I’m assuming it’s a drive-by.”