FALL RIVER, Mass. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Jurors began deliberating Tuesday in the murder trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez, after his lawyer acknowledged for the first time that his client was at the scene of the killing and saw it happen, but described Hernandez as a kid who simply did not know what to do.
The defense urged jurors to find Hernandez not guilty of murder.
"Did he make all the right decisions? No," lawyer James Sultan said during his closing arguments. "He was a 23-year-old kid who witnessed something, a shocking killing, committed by someone he knew. He didn't know what to do, so he just put one foot in front of the other."
Hernandez is charged in the June 17, 2013, death of Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee. Lloyd was shot six times and died in an industrial park less than a mile from Hernandez's home. At the time, the star tight end had a $40 million contract with the Patriots.
Sultan pinned the killing on Hernandez's co-defendants, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz. Both men have pleaded not guilty and will be tried later.
Assistant District Attorney William McCauley said Hernandez's behavior after the crime showed that he was involved. He cited evidence that Hernandez had rented a car for Wallace and directed his fiancee to give the two men $500 to flee, as well as surveillance video from inside Hernandez's home that showed him hanging out with them a few hours after Lloyd was killed.
"He's laying around the pool, soaking up the sun, drinking up smoothies with his two confederates," McCauley told jurors.
The prosecutor told jurors Hernandez was the gunman and urged them to go through all the evidence.
"If you do that, you'll get to where you need to go, which is to find the defendant guilty for the murder of Odin Lloyd," McCauley said.
In addition to the murder charge, the jury of seven women and five men will decide Hernandez's guilt or innocence on charges of unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition.
Sultan spent several minutes of his closing argument asking jurors to forget what they have heard about Hernandez in the media and outside the courtroom. Hernandez also faces murder charges in a separate case involving the death of two men.
He pointed out that prosecutors never presented a clear motive for why Hernandez would kill Lloyd, saying they were friends and future brothers-in-law and that there was no evidence he would have wanted Lloyd dead.
"You didn't hear because it doesn't exist," Sultan said. "Does the prosecution expect you to fill in that gaping hole in its case with guesswork, speculation?"
He also said investigators unfairly fixated on his client, presuming his guilt and finding what they could to support that theory.
"The investigation done in this case was incomplete, biased and inept. That was not fair to Odin Lloyd, that was not fair to Aaron Hernandez, and it was not fair to you," he said. "All that effort and this is all they could come up with. What does that tell you?"
The trial featured hundreds of pieces of evidence and testimony from 135 witnesses — 132 of them called by the prosecution.
Prosecutors said Hernandez and two friends drove to Boston to pick up Lloyd at his home, then drove him to the industrial park in North Attleborough and killed him.
Surveillance video at Hernandez's home minutes after the shooting showed him holding a black item that appeared to be a gun. A joint found near Lloyd's body had Hernandez's and Lloyd's DNA on it.
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