Dan Wetzel

  • Aaron Hernandez finally taken down by a 5-foot-tall operations manager

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 2 days ago

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – Lesa Strachan stands a little over 5-feet tall, wears her hair short and works as an area operations manager here in the small towns of southeastern Massachusetts. She is everyone. She is no one.

    She is not, for sure, rich or famous or celebrated, like Aaron Hernandez, the NFL star turned murder defendant who was standing across a Bristol County courtroom from her Wednesday morning.

    Lesa Strachan was the forewoman in Hernandez's murder case, personally selected by the judge because her intelligence and seriousness and leadership were easy to identify. As part of her job, Strachan had to rise up, look at Hernandez and read the verdict. She had to do something for perhaps the first time ever.

    She had to hold Aaron Hernandez accountable for his actions.

    "Guilty of murder in the first degree," Strachan said to the court.

    Moments later, Hernandez was forced by a court officer to sit down, no longer afforded the right to stand like the presumed innocent. He was just another convict now, just another prisoner, just another punk … life without parole at age 25.

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    It's pathetic.

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  • True grace: Odin Lloyd's mother forgives Aaron Hernandez for murdering her son

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – A few hours before he would eventually be murdered, his body riddled with bullets and left to rot in a field behind an industrial park, Odin Lloyd went to his mother, Ursula Ward, and wished her a Happy Father's Day.

    Odin Lloyd didn't have a father in his life, but as he'd grown and matured, now 27 years old, he'd come to realize he had something better: a mother who somehow pulled off the task of being both. So Father's Day, 2013, wasn't going without recognition.

    He had a mom, an immigrant mom, who despite financial hardships and a lifetime of setbacks, had stressed the straight and narrow, had pushed him through high school and into community college, who managed to shepherd him past the street gangs and corner violence that dominate his neighborhood in Boston. Odin Lloyd never was in trouble.

    He had a mom who taught him about the value of professionalism and hard work, to the point where when he went to apply for a landscaper's job out in the suburbs, he arrived in a shirt and tie, carrying a résumé.

    "Unusual," his boss acknowledged.

    Odin Lloyd was late, they realized. And Odin Lloyd was never late.

  • Aaron Hernandez found guilty of first-degree murder

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – A jury found Aaron Hernandez guilty of murder in the first degree for the 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd, ending forever his life of NFL fame and fortune.

    A Bristol County jury of seven women and five men deliberated for 36 hours over seven days before reaching a unanimous verdict on the former New England Patriots star. They said the murder rose to first degree due to Hernandez acting with extreme atrocity or cruelty. The conviction carries a sentence of automatic life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Hernandez, 25, stood stone-faced as the verdict was read, only to collapse into a chair as the guilty charges piled on. Behind him, his fiancée Shayanna Jenkins wept uncontrollably on the shoulder of Teri Hernandez, Aaron's mother. Lloyd's family, who during the trial made a daily pilgrimage to this old mill town 50 miles south of Boston, wept and embraced as the verdict was read. 

    "Stay strong, stay strong," Hernandez mouthed to his mother and Jenkins. Moments later, he was placed in handcuffs.

    The jury explained afterwards they did not buy the PCP theory, nor anything the defense put forth.

    It didn't matter.

  • Aaron Hernandez trial: Fiancée stands by her man as jury deliberates

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – Each morning red bags are placed over a couple of parking meters on South Main Street, directly in front of the Fall River Justice Center.

    The stretch of spots is reserved for the families of the victim and the defendant in the case of the Commonwealth v. Aaron Hernandez.

    Mostly it's proven to be a way to ease the arrival and departure for the women of this trial, Shayanna Jenkins, Hernandez's fiancée, and Ursula Ward, the mother of Odin Lloyd.

    The body of Lloyd, a 27-year-old landscaper from Boston, was found riddled with bullets on June 17, 2013, in a North Attleboro field. Prosecutors allege Hernandez, a former New England Patriots star, was the triggerman. A Bristol County jury completed its sixth day of deliberations Tuesday, about 35 hours total, without a verdict. They'll return to work Wednesday.

    Jenkins will likely return also, parallel parking her Audi A4 2.0T into one of those cordoned-off spaces. White stickers are pressed to the car's rear window reading: "Warwick Audi. Courtesy Vehicle."

    This week she's come alone, though, as a jury of 12 grinds on. She's standing by her man, with no one standing by her.

     

  • Aaron Hernandez jury still deliberating as Patriots feted in Boston

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – The New England winter was long and unusually harsh. Massive snow. Bitter cold.

    Monday bloomed warm and sunny though, the perfect weather for the unofficial start of spring, the home opener of the Boston Red Sox, 50 miles north of here at Fenway Park.

    There to celebrate the start of the season were members of the New England Patriots, who gave the region its one warm memory from the winter when they captured the franchise's fourth Super Bowl in early February.

    So Tom Brady took batting practice and threw out the first pitch. Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft carried Lombardi Trophies out on the diamond. Roars of adulation washed over them all.

    Hernandez's trial started here at Bristol County Superior Court back in late January, just four days before the Patriots' thrilling, last-minute victory over Seattle. In their previous Super Bowl appearance, a loss to the New York Giants in 2012, Hernandez caught a touchdown pass from Brady.

    Or was it just nicotine addiction?

    The reality is, no one knows.

     

  • Oakland basketball coach Greg Kampe making mark in fight against cancer

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago

    Greg Kampe has been a head college basketball coach for 31 years, all of them at Oakland University.

    He’s made some NCAA tournaments and he’s won some league titles, but he’s well aware that being in charge of a mid-major program in suburban Detroit doesn’t make him famous.

    So when the brutal touch of cancer reached into his program over the last year, causing two players to lose parents, he wanted to do something to raise money for the American Cancer Society. He just wasn’t sure how. He wasn’t the type of guy who could just snap his fingers and raise six figures.

    “The best thing I have going for me is the people I know,” Kampe said. “So I reached out to the people I know and came up with a unique, once-in-a-lifetime event.”

    Among the people he knows are nine of the best college basketball coaches in America:

    John Calipari (Kentucky), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), John Beilein (Michigan), Roy Williams (North Carolina), Sean Miller (Arizona), Bob Huggins (West Virginia), Steve Alford (UCLA), Josh Pastner (Memphis) and Rick Barnes (Tennessee).

    The unique, once-in-a-lifetime event is this:

    That much is undeniable.

     

  • Aaron Hernandez trial: Jury still deciding former NFL star's fate

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – Jury deliberations in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial will carry into next week, as the panel of seven women and five men broke for the weekend on Friday afternoon.

    The case was given to the Bristol County jury late Tuesday afternoon. They have deliberated for 20 hours thus far. They've had six notes for Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh, a couple of which suggest they are taking a detailed look at the submitted evidence.

    They will resume their work Monday at 9 a.m. ET here at the Fall River Justice Center.

    Hernandez, a former star for the New England Patriots, is facing charges of first degree murder, weapons and ammunition in the June 17, 2013, shooting death of Odin Lloyd.

    The victim was found in an undeveloped plot of industrial land near Hernandez's spacious North Attleboro, Mass., home. His defense team acknowledged in closing arguments that Hernandez was present for the murder but did not do it or orchestrate it.

    Lloyd, a 27-year-old landscaper from Boston, was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancée. Hernandez and Lloyd hung out together and shared an affinity for marijuana.

     

  • Judge bars TV cameraman from Aaron Hernandez trial after juror incident

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh banned a Boston television cameraman from the Fall River Justice Center after two jurors in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial complained he was seen driving a company car by a remote parking lot they use.

    Garsh previously questioned both jurors about whether the incident compromised their ability to decide the fate of Hernandez, who is charged with murdering Odin Lloyd on June 17, 2013, in a field in North Attleboro.

    Both jurors said they could continue and were returned to the jury room where deliberation continued through the day before breaking just after 4 p.m. (ET) without a verdict being reached. The jury has now worked nearly 16 hours across three days on the case and will resume Friday at 9 a.m.

    The television-news incident caused the often-fiery Garsh, who clashed repeatedly with attorneys during this lengthy trial, to become angry with the media. She said the action threatened the loss of jurors (there are only three alternates remaining) and thus increased the risk of a mistrial in a case that began back in early January for jury selection and is the product of enormous resources on both sides.

     

  • TV crew's action leads to threat of mistrial in Aaron Hernandez case

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – Two jurors determining the fate of Aaron Hernandez told Bristol County Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh that a Boston television station SUV was present at their parking lot Wednesday night and approached jury vehicles, an act that violates Massachusetts’ law.

    Both jurors – one male, one female – remained on the jury, which entered its second full day of deliberations on whether Hernandez murdered Odin Lloyd in the early morning hours of June 17, 2013.

    Hernandez is a former star player for the New England Patriots and as such the case has attracted major media attention.

    "It was one person in the vehicle; it was in the parking lot,” Garsh explained later of a van she identified as belonging to WHDH-TV, the NBC affiliate in Boston. "It slowed down as jurors were pulling out. It was looking at the jurors [in a way] the jurors deemed inappropriate."

    Garsh held individual meetings with the two jurors, but had white noise piped through the courtroom so the public and media could not hear. The male juror brought a cell phone with him. Garsh later explained he had taken a photograph of the television SUV’s license plate.

     

  • Why Aaron Hernandez will go back to jail even if found not guilty

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – Late Wednesday afternoon a Bristol County jury decided to break off deliberations in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial for the day. By that point, the group of seven women and five men had spent about eight-and-a-half hours over two days considering the case. They are scheduled to get back at it Thursday at 9 a.m.

    Hernandez, a former star with the New England Patriots, is charged with orchestrating the June 17, 2013, killing of Odin Lloyd, who was found shot to death in an industrial area of North Attleboro. He also faces separate weapons and ammunition charges at the trial.

    A first-degree murder conviction carries with it life in prison without the possibility of parole. A second-degree conviction would be life but with parole eligibility after 15 years. The gun charge is a maximum of five years in prison and the ammo up to two.

    So he’s staring down serious time.

    But what if Hernandez beats the rap here and the jury finds him not guilty on all charges?

    For the 25-year-old, not much will change, actually, and he certainly won’t be plotting a return to the NFL anytime soon.

    Will he be able to continue to afford them in the Boston case, though?

    There’s more, too.