FALL RIVER, Mass. — The first 23 days of Aaron Hernandez’s murder trial apparently had failed to dim the former New England Patriots tight end’s spirits. Tuesday morning, Day 24, Hernandez sauntered into Courtroom 7 of the Bristol County Superior Court wearing a black suit, tan shirt and tan tie, smiled wide and fist-bumped his cherubic, curly-haired lawyer. Hernandez reduced his expression to a grin and nodded to someone in the back row of the court. He sat down and leaned back in his black leather chair.

For nearly two years, Hernandez has stood accused of killing Odin Lloyd, and still the passage of time has made it no less surreal to see a player who caught a touchdown pass from Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, sitting in the defendant’s chair. He seems, at times, unable or unwilling to wrap his own mind around it. Some moments have sharpened his focus: He looked away from images of Lloyd’s body, and he has given some witnesses icy looks. But he also has appeared oddly comfortable, even swaggering, throughout the trial. He has lost maybe 25 pounds from his playing weight; he has not lost his confident, athlete’s gait.

During Tuesday’s proceedings, he watched a surveillance video of himself walking around his luxuriant living room, shirtless. Moments later, a bailiff led him away for lunch. Did the duality strike him? Did the glimpse of his old life stir anything as he faced the grim circumstances of his current one? After lunch, Hernandez strutted back into court and laughed at a bailiff making conversation with a reporter. He turned over his left shoulder and peeked at the gallery; there was no one from his family.

Hernandez at one point broke into outright laughter. In the early afternoon, the prosecution called to the stand Anthony Jerome, a valet at the W Hotel who parked Hernandez’s rented black Suburban on the night of June 14, 2013, three days before Lloyd’s slaying. Jerome appeared nervous to the point of disorientation; he paused when asked his age.

Assistant District Attorney William McCauley attempted to lead Jerome though the events of the night, specifically how a man had returned to the Suburban and asked him to unlock it.

“What did that person say to you?” McCauley asked.


“That person asked for the keys,” Jerome replied.

“Did he say why?”

“I don’t remember.”

Hernandez chuckled, looking at the floor, as Jerome squirmed. McCauley approached Jerome and showed him his grand jury testimony for the second time. Jerome asked if he could simply read it out loud. “You may read it to yourself,” Justice Susan Garsh declared.

McCauley asked Jerome if the grand jury testimony had refreshed his memory. He answered in the affirmative.

“He asked me to unlock the doors,” Jerome said.


“Did he indicate why?” McCauley said.

“I don’t remember,” Jerome replied.

“Having just read this, you don’t remember?” McCauley asked, holding up the grand jury testimony.

Hernandez giggled. If you can enjoy your own murder trial, then he was.

The next witness turned Hernandez more serious. Samson Michael, Jerome’s boss at the W Hotel, testified he “noticed a guy with a shirt up to his chest and what appeared to be a gun” in the Suburban. McCauley later asked Michael if the man was in the court room. Michael looked at Hernandez.

“He’s in a black suit with a tan shirt and tan tie,” Michael said.


Defense attorney Michael Fee peppered Michael, questioning whether he saw a gun or whether he thought he saw a gun.

“I saw what I think is a gun,” Michael said.

Day 24 started out kind of boring. It lacked the salaciousness of Monday, when Hernandez’s baby-sitter testified that Hernandez had tried to kiss her the day before Lloyd’s murder before passing out and falling asleep. The first four hours were devoted to phone records. AT&T’s Christopher Ritchell produced cell phone records from phones belonging to Hernandez and his fiancé, Shayanna Jenkins.

Bristol County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Bomberg led Ritchell through the records, a painstaking, number-heavy, repetitive process that caused jurors to fidget in their seats.

The prosecution used the cell phone records for two purposes. First, it tried to poke holes in the defense’s argument that Hernandez was too close to Lloyd to consider murdering him. According to the records Ritchell produced, Hernandez’s first cellular phone exchange with Lloyd occurred on June 6, 2013, 11 days before Lloyd was shot to death and dumped in a North Attleboro industrial park.

Second, Bomberg used Ritchell’s testimony to pin down communication from June 16 through June 18, the night of the murder and the aftermath. The records showed Hernandez’s phone sending messages to Lloyd and co-defendant Ernest Wallace simultaneously hours before Lloyd’s slaying.


The records also revealed a text Hernandez sent using Lloyd’s phone. In a text to Jenkins’s phone – saved under the contact “Boss Lady” – Hernandez wrote on June 15 just before 9 a.m., “I [expletive] up again and [expletive] I didn’t mean to but got drunk and too [expletive] up an O took care of me an somehow tol him bout my other spot and I jus woke up buggin im sorry and on way home.”

As the jury studied the text on a monitor, Hernandez shifted in his chair and rubbed lint off his left knee.

At one point, Bomberg showed a text message exchange between Hernandez – who was at the police station at the time he sent the text – and his fiancée.

Hernandez wrote to a contact he saved as “Mrs”: “Go in back to the screen in movie room when you get home an there is the box avielle likes to play with in the tub jus in case u were looking for it!!!!. Member how u ruined that big tv lmao wink love u TTYL . . .. . .k”

Avielle is the couple’s daughter. The state has alleged that this was code informing Jenkins about the location of weapons. The weapon used to murder Lloyd has still not been recovered.

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