Harry Manion on D&C: Aaron Hernandez likely to be ‘absolutely penniless’ within a year
|06.27.13 at 10:20 am ET|
Legal expert Harry Manion, a founding partner of the Boston law firm Cooley, Manion, Jones, joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to weigh in on the Aaron Hernandez case, and he expressed a sentiment similar to that felt by most others since Hernandez’s appearance in Attleboro District Court Wednesday: It’s not looking good for the former Patriots tight end.
Manion does not see Hernandez winning his expected appeal of being held without bail, and he didn’t see any strong possible defense given the evidence laid out by the prosecution Wednesday.
Some consider the lack of the murder weapon a hole in the prosecution’s case, but not Manion.
“I’ve seen a lot of defense lawyers say, ‘Oh, that’s a big deal.’ I don’t think so,” Manion said. “You mean you can commit a murder and as long as you’re successful of getting rid of the murder weapon in some pond or in a forest or you bury it, there’s going to be reasonable doubt?
“The facts that we know right now we know not because how the prosecution say them, but we know them based on how the juries decide things, based on their logic, their common sense and their ability to reason.”
One possible defense, Manion said, is to try to distance Hernandez from the intent to kill and shooting itself. Hernandez’s lawyer could argue that Hernandez simply wanted to scare the victim, 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, not actually kill him, but then things escalated and Hernandez’s accomplices pulled the trigger.
Even then, though, it is extremely unlikely the charge gets downgraded from first-degree murder to second-degree, according to Manion.
“[The prosecution] putting a stake in the ground that we’re going after Murder 1. Murder 1 is not pleadable,” Manion said. “You’re not going to knock that down to Murder 2 unless you have a reason. And if Hernandez is a shooter, there is no reason for it and they’ll never knock it down.”
Manion also said that the claim by Michael Fee, Hernandez’s lawyer, that the prosecutor’s case is widely circumstantial is not a weakness — far from it, in fact.
The legal expert explained it like this: There are two kinds of evidence, direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. Eyewitness testimony is direct, and pretty much everything else is circumstantial. That Fee implied “circumstantial” means “out of context” is inaccurate.
“I understand why Michael Fee [said that]. What else is he going to say? When you stand there and listen to that, what else are you going to say?” Manion said. “Circumstantial in my opinion is stronger because eyewitnesses can be wrong. Circumstantial is based on our logic, common experience, common sense and reason. It’s the most powerful evidence around in every case. … In the court of public opinion, people don’t understand it. ‘Circumstantial’ sounds like it’s taken out of context. That’s default for, ‘I don’t have anything else to say.’ ”
Manion was also surprised at how much the prosecution revealed in Wednesday’s original hearing. It was more than he’s ever seen in high-profile cases.
“It’s breathtaking what they put together in eight days,” Manion said. “That was all designed to a) let the public know that, ‘We believe we have the murderer. The murderer is not out there.’ And b) we’re going to treat this like any other case. In other words, we’re not going to give him any kind of special treatment. And they brought everything they had.”
Additionally, the trial will cost Hernandez “everything he has — and it will diminish quickly,” Manion said. “I think he will be, within a year, absolutely penniless. I wouldn’t be surprised if he winds up with a public defender.”