Dan Wetzel

  • Aaron Hernandez, upbeat murder defendant

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 2 days ago

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – Aaron Hernandez, bright-eyed and sharply dressed, came bouncing into the fifth-floor courtroom here Wednesday, just before 9 a.m., wearing a soft smile, like he does almost every morning of his now 6-week-old murder trial.

    He was confronted with an empty front row of seats. The realization that not one family member or friend came to support him (the second time it's happened this week alone) didn't outwardly faze him, though. His expression never changed as he instead locked eyes on the small cluster of media and offered a welcoming grin, a nod of hello and a "good morning."

    He remained engaged, upbeat and active across another day of plodding, powder dry testimony – finger-print analysis, tire-tread-mark comparison and mitochondrial DNA defining.

    At the end of hours of evidence piling up against him, he stood casually and shared a big back slap with one of his attorneys, James Sultan, as he strolled out (albeit under the escort of multiple court officers) with a carefree step.

    [Related: Aaron Hernandez avoids major defeat in trial]

    ____________________

  • Aaron Hernandez avoids major defeat

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 2 days ago

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – Aaron Hernandez avoided disaster here Wednesday when Judge E. Susan Garsh denied a prosecution motion that would have allowed the admission into the murder trial of the former New England Patriot that he shot a friend and dumped the body in a prior and unrelated incident.

    "The Commonwealth is trying to show [Hernandez has a] propensity to shoot his friends," defense attorney James Sultan argued. "This case is about Odin Lloyd and no one else."

    Hernandez is on trial for the murder of Lloyd, a friend, who was found dead from gunshot wounds behind an industrial park near Hernandez's North Attleboro, Mass., home in June 2013.

    The prior shooting involved allegations that Hernandez shot another friend, Alexander Bradley, between the eyes after an argument following a night out at a South Florida strip club in February 2013. Bradley was thrown from the car in a secluded area. He survived, but lost his right eye.

    Bradley did not cooperate with authorities but has sued Hernandez in federal court and is considered the star witness in Hernandez's upcoming trial for two more murders in Boston.

     

  • Aaron Hernandez defense calls prosecution filing 'utterly frivolous'

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – On Monday, the prosecution in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial filed a motion seeking to admit into evidence allegations of a prior, separate 2013 shooting of a friend by the former New England Patriots star.

    Hernandez's defense didn't waste any time responding, filing its own motion Tuesday morning here at Bristol County Superior Court calling the state's attempt "utterly frivolous."

    Judge E. Susan Garsh has yet to rule on the back and forth, which, if admitted, could prove devastating to Hernandez, who is currently on trial for the June 2013 murder of friend Odin Lloyd.

    At issue is an incident that occurred in February 2013, when Hernandez allegedly shot his longtime friend, Alexander Bradley, after a visit to a South Florida strip club.

    No criminal charges were filed in that incident because Bradley refused to cooperate with authorities. Bradley later sued Hernandez in federal court. He is also considered a key eyewitness in Hernandez's upcoming trial for a 2012 double homicide outside a Boston nightclub.

     

  • Potential devastating turn for Aaron Hernandez

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – One of the central tenets of the defense of Aaron Hernandez is a lack of motive: Why would an NFL star with so much going for him – money, fame, growing family – be involved in murdering Odin Lloyd, a possible future brother-in-law with whom he regularly partied?

    "His friend Odin," is how Hernandez's attorney Michael Fee repeatedly described their relationship during January's opening statements in the trial of whether the former New England Patriot killed Lloyd on June 17, 2013. Fee used the term "friend" over a dozen times that day.

    It's a strong point to which the prosecution has struggled to counter. Not only is there a lack of motive, the defense has argued, but if anything there is motive for Hernandez to not commit the crime. Who just kills his buddy?

    Then came Monday when the prosecution went on the attack and tried to ingeniously flip the entire line of defense, and indeed the defense team's hubris, around.

    No criminal charges were filed in that incident because Bradley refused to cooperate with authorities. Bradley later sued Hernandez in federal court, reportedly seeking more than $100,000 in damages.

     

  • Joey Logano, out of a job at 22, Daytona 500 champ at 24

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 12 days ago

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – They dubbed him "Sliced Bread" because he was, you know, supposed to be the greatest thing since …

    They predicted he'd be "one of the greatest that ever raced in NASCAR." He was 15 at the time Mark Martin said that. Teams waged a recruiting war for him, like he was a five-star college football recruit. Everyone counted down to his 18th birthday when he could finally run in the Sprint Cup Series and, by expectation, dominate the Sprint Cup Series. The marketing and promotional teams went with all of it. And then some.

    A kid's going to follow along with all of this, of course. The legends say I'm going to be a legend? Who doesn't want to be LeBron?

    Joey Logano was put on a path to be LeBron, seamlessly moving from high school kid to professional star. The only problem was Joey Logano wasn't LeBron.

    He was still young, still a kid, still a bit goofy and worse, it just doesn't always come as easy as everyone predicts. This isn't a team sport in the truest sense. There's never anywhere to hide. There are grown men, fighting for their careers, looking to run you into oblivion, if not bump you into a wall.

     

     

  • Kurt Busch case a product of the post-Ray Rice world in sports

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 12 days ago

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kurt Busch has never been arrested for allegedly assaulting his one-time girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, on Sept. 26, 2014, inside his motorhome at Dover International Speedway.

    Kurt Busch has never been charged with that crime. Kurt Busch has never been convicted of that crime. Kurt Busch never settled the case, in part, because there is no case to settle. There have been no criminal or civil charges filed against him.

    What did happen was a commissioner of a family court in Delaware issued an order of protection on Monday to keep Busch away from Driscoll, followed by an explanation of the decision on Friday.

    That led to NASCAR suspending the driver immediately and indefinitely, including for Sunday's Daytona 500. Busch appealed twice and lost twice in a matter of six hours on Saturday. The 36-year-old's career, which features 25 Sprint Cup victories and one championship, might be done.

    Fair enough. A restraining order should always err on the side of caution, and reading Jones' extensive ruling, it's a reasonable conclusion. Busch certainly could've done it and keeping these two apart is definitely a good idea.

    That was pre-Ray Rice.

     

  • Long overdue Mayweather-Pacquiao fight will not save boxing

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago

    For years now, when blessed with a free moment, Freddie Roach would pull up video of Floyd Mayweather fights and look for weaknesses. He was devising a strategy just in case his fighter, Manny Pacquiao, actually one day got a shot at the unbeaten champ.

    Over and over, shoulder roll after shoulder roll, Roach, maybe more than any participant, promoter or fan, dreamed of the dream matchup.

    "It's a huge challenge for Manny, no question," Roach told Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole. "But I think it's a fight that he can win."

    Now, or at least May 2, we'll find out.

    The mega-fight is signed and what will come in a 2½-month blitz of promotion will be big hype, big talk and big money. The bout promises to shatter all sorts of records, from total gate to pay-per-view purchases until both parties rake in more than $100 million each.

    What it won't do is "save" the sport or anything along that vein, even if that's what will almost certainly become a media narrative.

    Older white fans, obsessed with mainstream stick-and-ball sports, will always lament the lack of a compelling heavyweight division, but reality isn't changing.

  • NASCAR's next big thing in no hurry to be NASCAR's next big thing

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It wasn't much more than a year ago, the week before Christmas, 2013, back in the Elliott family shop in Dawsonville, Ga.

    NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott – Awesome Bill from Dawsonville – and his son Chase were working on a super late model that Chase had run in the Snowball Derby a couple weeks prior. They hoped to race it again in South Georgia in January.

    That was the plan for 18-year-old Chase. Sponsorship delays and business realities had caused everything to stall. Both Elliotts figured Chase's 2014 would consist of a hodgepodge of races, many of them minor. They figured maybe half a dozen, at best, in the Nationwide Series, the second highest level of NASCAR.

    It's not bad for a kid his age, but it's hard to gain any continuity or experience needed for long-term growth.

    Then a call came in for Bill. He took it, returned to the shop and told Chase in his typical, matter-of-fact style, that NAPA had agreed to return to racing as a major sponsor and Chase would now run a full season in the Nationwide (now the Xfinity) Series.

    Just like that.

    He's beyond the next big thing.

    How's he do it?

    "I have no idea how," Bill said.

  • Danica Patrick: 'I'm not positive enough'

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago

    Your browser does not support iframes.

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The two motor coaches sit side by side in the infield of Daytona International Speedway – Danica Patrick and Denny Hamlin, neighbors.

    "That's his bus," Patrick said, pointing out her kitchen window Friday morning, the day after Hamlin spun her out for the second consecutive day, requiring her and her team to stage a wild comeback in Thursday's Duel 150 to qualify for Sunday's Daytona 500.

    What followed was a nationally televised argument complete with lapel grabbing, raised voices and little common ground.

    "There were so many cameras around I had to make sure I didn't swear too much," Patrick said with a laugh some 12 hours later.

    This puzzled Patrick since she considers Hamlin one of her best friends on the circuit. Danica and her boyfriend, fellow driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., regularly have dinner with him, golf with him, just hang out with him.

    It's all pretty funny and she understands that part. She shrugs. This is NASCAR after all. Doesn't something like this go down every week?

  • Drama finds Danica in nail-biter at Daytona

    Yahoo News 14 days ago

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – All that remained for Danica Patrick to qualify for Sunday's Daytona 500 was what should have been three simple laps.

    That's when she noticed Denny Hamlin in her rearview mirror. It was the same vision she saw in practice Wednesday just before Hamlin spun her out, wrecking her primary car and making a stressful qualifying process into perhaps, she said, the most nerve-racking race of her career.

    Now here he was again, her friend, her golfing buddy, her neighbor in the infield lot here at Daytona, only he was running close, closer, too close again to her rear bumper.

    Next thing she knew she was spinning around on Daytona International Speedway, clipping cars and slashing through the infield grass, the dream of running Sunday flashing before her eyes, the dread of failing her team, her fans and her sponsors racing through her mind.