Aaron Hernandez trial: Tempers flare after fiancée's testimony
Let's say you are a young mother, home one summer night with your live-in boyfriend. Your 8-month-old baby is sleeping peacefully in the other room.
Then, through the blinds in your bedroom, you see flashlights whipping around your backyard. The home security system shows a couple of men out there but your boyfriend doesn't seem concerned, or at least concerned enough to go confront them or call the cops.
Eventually the men knock on your front door but your boyfriend won't answer. Finally he relents and it turns out the guys with flashlights are the police and they want your boyfriend to come down to the station for a chat.
It's close to 11 p.m.
Rather than let him drive himself or get a lift with the police, you get the baby up and drive him down there. After dropping him off, a couple more police want to talk to you as you sit in the car. Then your boyfriend calls and says to talk to his agent (your boyfriend happens to be a football star). After that, you stop talking to the police through the car window.
Your boyfriend, still inside the police station, calls again and assigns you a job: go meet up with his buddy Bo at some random spot off a highway and give him some money.
Isn't it late at night and there's a baby in the car? And aren't you inside a police station? Can't this wait until morning? Apparently it can't. So you drive to one place but then Bo gets in touch with you directly and says to meet him somewhere else, maybe an hour away.
You wind up at a McDonald's off an interstate in Rhode Island, some 30 miles from where you started, and wait until Bo and some other guy show up. You go to the ATM nearby, pull out the maximum allowed – $500 – and hand over the cash.
Just after 1 a.m. during the 30-mile drive back home, your sister calls and breaks the news that her boyfriend is dead. She may have even mentioned that he was found riddled with bullets in an undeveloped plot of industrial land right near your home.
At this point, if not many points prior, if you were that young mother, wouldn't you call your boyfriend and ask, "Hey, hun, what exactly is going on here?"
Apparently not if you are Shayanna Jenkins.
The prosecution's star witness took the stand Friday and, backed by an immunity deal, spent over four hours testifying what she knew about the circumstances surrounding the death of Odin Lloyd on June 17, 2013. Her then boyfriend now fiancée, Aaron Hernandez, is charged in the murder.
What she knows, according to Jenkins, may not be much, consistent to what Jenkins' attorney has called her "don't ask, don't tell" relationship with the former New England Patriot.
But could she really not even ask about this?
Well, the next day Jenkins said she did ask Hernandez if he murdered Lloyd. His response, according to Jenkins:
"That was the extent of our conversation," she testified.
That answer is probably not going to be enough to satisfy the jury at Bristol County (Mass.) Superior Court, which is why Jenkins is scheduled to return to the stand on Monday and deal with additional questioning.
It should focus on more notable evidence, such as whether she washed (at Hernandez's behest) the white sweatshirt he was seen wearing the night of the alleged murder, as well as the contents of a garbage bag she took from the home and threw in a dumpster, the location of which she has previously said she no longer recalls.
In testimony Friday that was not in front of the jury, Jenkins acknowledged the bag contained a box and that Hernandez deemed it "important" to throw out. The prosecution has strongly implied it contained a .45 caliber Glock that was the murder weapon.
Needless to say, Monday promises to be a significant day in the future of Aaron Hernandez.
As for Friday, the prosecution's slow, exhaustive, painstakingly detailed direct examination produced numerous important and necessary details, although few were so powerful that they may seal the case.
Jenkins testified that Hernandez was drunk the night of the alleged murder. He was, indeed, wearing that white hoodie in a photo snapped hours earlier at a Father's Day dinner in Providence.
Jurors also learned that Jenkins once found a gun in the kitchen "junk drawer;" that Ernest "Bo" Wallace was a long-time friend; that Carlos Ortiz, the other guy in the car at the McDonalds, was in the house the night Lloyd died. And that all three were relaxed the next day, hanging out at the pool as Shayanna served smoothies – a key element to proving "joint venture" under Massachusetts' law.
There was a lot of that. What Friday's testimony lacked in excitement, it made up for in methodical case building by the Commonwealth.
And then there were the suspiciously non-suspicious acts of the night after, when the flicker of a flashlight signaled the beginning of everything closing in on Hernandez. Nine days later he was arrested and jailed.
The slow pace and precise detail of the questioning angered Jenkins' attorney, Janice Bassil, who had been promised that her now 25-year-old client would only be needed on Friday. Bassil exploded after the jury left the courtroom Friday afternoon, arguing to Judge E. Susan Garsh that due to a scheduling conflict she wouldn't allow Jenkins to return Monday. (Bassil is due at another trial Monday and doesn't want her client to be in court without representation.)
"I have never seen a direct examination that dragged as much as this did," Bassil argued, drawing a heated return from prosecutor William McCauley.
Garsh was unmoved and told Bassil to have Jenkins at the Fall River Justice Center on Monday.
What comes then could determine everything.
What's clear is that Jenkins is determined to testify and thus avoid a contempt of court charge that could jail her. Yet it seems she hasn't flipped on Hernandez either – Jenkins reportedly grabbed a sandwich during lunch hour Friday with Hernandez's mother. Later, as Jenkins left the courtroom for the day, she mouthed, "I love you" to Hernandez.
Or perhaps she has nothing incriminating to tell.
Maybe she really was so unaware of everything that she can't recall a dumpster location or found it completely reasonable to drive around New England in the middle of the night, baby in the back seat, handing off cash in a McDonald's parking lot, all while she was aware the police wanted to talk to Hernandez.
"Love u more than life," Hernandez texted as she drove that night.
"Equal," she wrote back.