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Legal analyst Harry Manion on D&C: ‘You can stick the fork in Aaron Hernandez’

05.16.14 at 10:10 am ET
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Boston attorney and legal analyst Harry Manion checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to discuss the Aaron Hernandez situation.

On Thursday, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley announced that a grand jury has indicted Hernandez for the murder of two men outside a Boston nightclub in 2012. The former Patriots tight end already is in jail awaiting trial on murder and weapons charges related to the shooting death of Odin Lloyd last year.

Investigators have been working on the 2012 double murder since receiving a tip after Hernandez was arrested last summer. Manion said the delay in charging Hernandez likely will be worth it.

“Here’s what I think happened: It took them a while to get everybody to roll,” Manion said. “They rolled his accomplice, obviously. They rolled the guy who gave him the gun. And they have survivors. This is just an avalanche of evidence — forensic and testimonial.”

Added Manion: “They have the motive — fight in a bar, disagreement in a bar; there’s the motive. They have the car at the scene; the car is tied to Hernandez. They have the murder weapon tied to Hernandez. Wait ’til they start rolling out the forensics after the arraignment showing all the forensic evidence tying it to Hernandez. And the survivors are going to be compelling, especially the guy that got shot. Even the two guys that ran, they’re going to be compelling witnesses at trial. You can stick the fork in Aaron Hernandez.

“Honestly, I’ve been thinking about it since I knew the indictment was being returned very shortly. I’ve been thinking about how the players and the team must have felt knowing that they were a teammate and professionally connected with a homicidal sociopath who was among them and was part of them and then goes out and does these kinds of unbelievably premeditated, heinous, not spur of the moment, not heat of passion, not, ‘Look, we got in a fight and the gun went off.’ This is, ‘I’m going to track you down and shoot you.’

“He’s an advertisement for the death penalty if there ever was one. A wealthy, famous, homicidal sociopath with every resource known to man, every opportunity, ability. And to to commit these kinds of crimes — allegedly. Listen, he’s presumed innocent until he’s found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But that doesn’t prevent all of us in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to review the evidence ourselves, to see what the evidence says, and it shouts guilty on both counts.”

Manion said it’s highly unlikely any deals will be made to avoid trials in either case.

“They’re both going to go to trial,” Manion said. “I thought there was a shot that he’d probably try the Odin Lloyd [case] and say, ‘I didn’t do the shooting.’ … His best case is, ‘I didn’t do the shooting. These guys got carried away. Yeah, I was there, but I just wanted him to be scared.’

“With this pending over his head, I don’t know, if I were his lawyer, I’d try the Odin Lloyd [case] first and try to blame it on the other guys, see if I can get a Murder 2, somehow get a Murder 2. Murder 2 is parole eligibility in 15 years. I don’t ever see that happening. … This guy’s got to be put away forever, because that’s the most the law will allow. That has to happen here for all of us that are interested in justice.”

Hernandez’s defense team is in a tough spot, and Manion said his lawyers are likely to let Hernandez know that the odds of him getting out of jail are slim.

“Of course they’re not going to say, ‘We’re not going to win it,’ but that the evidence objectively is overwhelming and compelling,” Manion said. “And on the odds, ‘9.7 times out of 10 you’re going to be convicted, Aaron.’ There’s always a 1 percent chance, or 5 percent chance that one juror is going to hang because he or she doesn’t like the prosecution or likes Hernandez or whatever.

“You don’t have any options here. There’s just no strategic options available to you. There was one in Lloyd … ‘I did not do the shooting. I’m sorry. I got carried away. This guy had to be shut up and scared. He was saying bad things about my family, Odin Lloyd. I asked a couple of friends to come up and help me talk to him and shake him up a bit, and those guys got carried away.’ That was a Murder 2 — it’s actually a Murder 1, but you could knock that down to a Murder 2.

“If he’s the shooter, there’s nowhere to go. If I’m the DA, I’m going to say, ‘Talk to the hand. I don’t want to talk to you. See you in court. Here’s my opening statement, here’s my closing, here’s my jury instructions. Let’s give it to 12 citizens of the commonwealth and see what they think we should do with Mr. Hernandez.’ That’s what I think.”

In addition to his legal issues, Hernandez likely also soon will be broke, Manion said.

“The first day [Hernandez appeared in court last summer], I said he’s going to wind up in jail for the rest of his life and bankrupt. And he will be,” Manion said. “There’s suits and attachments all over the place against him. He’s going to be indigent. He’s going to wind up with court-appointed lawyers. That’s how it’s going to end.”

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