Aaron Hernandez Murder Trial: What We Know So Far About the Florida Connection
Photo by Jeffrey Beall via Wikimedia Commons
Thursday saw the opening statements in the Aaron Hernandez first-degree murder trial, where prosecutor Patrick Bomberg said he has surveillance video of Hernandez and a couple of his friends with victim Oldin Lloyd on the night Lloyd was murdered.
Hernandez has also been named as a person of interest in a separate incident at a nightclub in Florida, as well as another one in Boston; references to those cases have been ruled inadmissible for the Lloyd trial. Still, there remain Florida connections to Hernandez here, starting with one of the friends, Ernest Wallace, who was allegedly with him the night Lloyd was killed.
Wallace's parents live in Miramar. And when news broke of Lloyd's death, Wallace turned himself in to Miramar Police.
Hernandez's troubles are a seemingly complex web with some Florida connections. Here's a recap of what we know so far:
Who is Ernest Wallace? According to prosecutors in Bristol County, Massachusetts, Wallace is a friend of Hernandez's. Prosecutors say Hernandez texted Wallace and another friend, Carlos Ortiz, to drive north to Massachusetts to hang out on the fateful evening. Prosecutors also say that following Lloyd's murder, Wallace took off to Broward to hide out at his parents' home in Miramar. Hernandez allegedly helped Wallace with money to do this.
But when news broke of the murder and Wallace began seeing his name among the suspects and heard authorities were looking for him, he turned himself in to police.
At least one of Wallace's parents' neighbors said they had never seen or heard of Wallace before the news broke.
"That guy they showed me a picture of the other day," an unidentified neighbor told New Times at the time, "I've never seen him. I've been here for years and never seen him. [The parents are] nice and quiet neighbors. I would have never thought this."
So what happened to Wallace? Following his arrest, Wallace stood before a Bristol Superior Court and pleaded not guilty to one count of murder in the killing of Lloyd. According to prosecutors, there is evidence that proves Wallace and Ortiz were hanging out with Hernandez and Lloyd on the night of the murder.
On Thursday, prosecutors revealed previously unseen video footage taken from Hernandez's home surveillance system showing Hernandez, Wallace, and Ortiz getting out of a car without Lloyd hours after the group had been hanging out. The video also shows Hernandez carrying a gun.
Wallace and Ortiz will have their own separate trials for Lloyd's murder at an as-yet-undetermined date.
So what's the other Florida connection? The same week Massachusetts authorities began investigating Hernandez for Odin Lloyd's murder, Hernandez had a federal civil lawsuit filed against him in the Southern District of Florida by a man named Alexander Bradley after Hernandez allegedly shot Bradley in the face after leaving Tootsie's Cabaret in Miami.
Bradley, who is friends with Hernandez -- or was, until he shot him in the face, allegedly -- were hanging at Tootsie's with a group of people on the night of February 13, 2013, when the two began to argue. The two men -- and a third person who is referenced in the lawsuit but never been named -- then hopped into an SUV and headed to Palm Beach. Hernandez had a gun, Bradley claimed in his suit. Hernandez allegedly pointed the gun at Bradley as the two argued in the vehicle. The gun then discharged. Bradley suffered hearing loss and eventually lost his right eye.
The witness list in the civil case does not disclose who else was in the car with Hernandez and Bradley that night. Court documents say that attorneys want to depose "other occupants of the vehicle -- contact information presently unknown."
Bradley, who is now in prison, was deposed in this case -- but his deposition is sealed.
Parties in the civil lawsuit agreed that the trial be set for after Hernandez's murder trial. It is currently set to begin in December. The judge in the case ordered the lawyers not to speak about it except in limited terms, such as to refer people back to the court documents.
How is Alexander Bradley connected to the Odin Lloyd murder? He's not. But he is connected to another murder Hernandez is charged with -- a separate incident that occurred a year before Lloyd was killed.
According to a federal warrant, Hernandez and Bradley were riding in a Toyota 4Runner when someone inside the vehicle shot and killed Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado on the night of July 16, 2012, outside a Boston nightclub. Records reveal that Hernandez was not only the driver but the triggerman as well.
According to Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley, the two victims were ambushed in their car.
"Mr. de Abreu and Mr. Furtado were ambushed and executed as they drove home along Shawmut Avenue in Boston's South End in the early morning hours of July 16, 2012," Conley said at a news conference in May of last year.
Surveillance footage outside the Cure Lounge in Boston showed Bradley and Hernandez following the victims as they left the nightclub. They followed behind the men in the vehicle and eventually pulled up beside them at a red light. That's when Hernandez allegedly fired a .38-caliber revolver multiple times from the driver's side into the passenger's side. According to witnesses, the Toyota 4Runner then sped off after the shots were fired.
So what's happened with Bradley? More bad luck followed Bradley. After allegedly getting shot in the face by Hernandez, Bradley was shot again, multiple times -- this time at a Connecticut club.
At the time, cops said there was supposedly some kind of disturbance in the club that spilled out into the parking lot, where Bradley was shot by an unknown assailant. Bradley then went to a vehicle to retrieve a gun and shot up the front of the club.
Did Bradley survive? Yes. He is currently incarcerated in Connecticut on charges of criminal possession of a firearm, criminal use of a firearm, unlawful discharge of a firearm, stealing a firearm, and first-degree reckless endangerment following the Connecticut nightclub incident.
He's also listed as one of 300 potential witnesses in the murder case against Hernandez.
Any other Florida connections? Sort of. It involves Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey. And while this incident is not in any way connected to the Odin Lloyd murder or the Bradley shooting or the double-murders in Boston, there's still some familiarity that rings to it. It all may also be just a big coincidence.
Hernandez's former teammates at the University of Florida -- Mike and his twin brother, Maurkice -- were with Hernandez during a 2007 shooting. This shooting also involved a nightclub, a car, and an ambush and possibly sprang from an argument.
According to a 2013 report by ESPN, the Pounceys were with Hernandez at the Venue nightclub in Gainesville on the night of September 30, 2007.
According to investigators, three men had left the Venue in their car. The car eventually stopped at a red light blocks away when the men were shot at. Corey Smith, a 28-year-old at the time who was sitting in the front passenger seat, was shot in back of the head. Justin Glass, the 19-year-old driver, was shot in the arm. The third man, Randall Cason, was unharmed. None of the gunshot wounds was fatal.
During the investigation, Cason told police that the person who had shot them was a "Hawaiian" or "Hispanic" male. The assailant was also described as muscular, six-foot-four, around 230 pounds, and had several tattoos.
Just for comparison, Hernandez's NFL combine measurements in 2010 were six-foot-two and 245 pounds.
According to Gainesville Police, Hernandez was not a suspect. But, weirdly enough, he refused to speak with investigators following the shooting. The police report says Hernandez, who was a 17-year-old freshman at the time, also "invoked his right to counsel."
Days following the shooting, police say Cason "rescinded his identification of Aaron Hernandez" as a suspect. No one has ever been charged with the shooting.
Make of all that what you will.
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