Even during Aaron Hernandez trial, Bill Belichick still finds a way to win

Columnist
Yahoo Sports
Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez sits at the defense table during Day 5 of jury deliberations of his double-murder trial Thursday. (AP)
Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez sits at the defense table during Day 5 of jury deliberations of his double-murder trial Thursday. (AP)

BOSTON – Bill Belichick was able to avoid testifying for the defense in Aaron Hernandez’s double-murder trial in part because the golf course community in which he lives made it a challenge for a subpoena to be served to him.

Good blocking, if you will.

Jose Baez, Hernandez’s defense attorney, wanted to call Belichick as, presumably, a character witness for the defense. Hernandez is standing trial for the 2012 murders of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in a 2012 Boston drive-by shooting. The jury is in its fifth full day of deliberations at Suffolk County Court.

While a subpoena to appear was eventually issued to Belichick, it did not occur until the final day of the trial because Baez’s people couldn’t get to Belichick’s home, located around the Black Rock Country Club in Hingham, Mass.

When the papers were eventually served, Belichick had less than 24 hours’ notice to appear in court. The legendary coach failed to do that. With no other witnesses to call, Baez decided against dragging out the trial while searching for Belichick because, as he told Yahoo Sports last week, he did not deem Belichick to be “a big deal to the case.”

However, had Baez been able to issue the order-to-appear papers sooner, Belichick may not have been able to avoid taking the witness stand. It would have likely produced little substantive information on Hernandez’s guilt or innocence, but been viewed as high drama by football fans.

Belichick has won a record five Super Bowls with the Patriots. While no evidence or testimony has ever arisen that he knew anything of Hernandez’s actions, he did draft Hernandez out of the University of Florida in 2010, signed the tight end to a lucrative contract extension prior to the 2012 season and coached him until Hernandez was arrested in June 2013 on a separate murder charge for which he was later convicted and sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole.

Belichick is also known for his interactions with the media, which can range from acerbic and terse to expansive and explanatory. His press conferences are often highly entertaining. Even a brief stint on the witness stand would have riveted the public.

“The community in which he lived, our officer was not able to get in numerous times,” Baez told Suffolk County Judge Jeffrey Locke on Thursday morning. “So we made a strategic decision to release him from service.”

Locke raised the issue in open court on Thursday. The judge said Belichick’s Ohio-based attorney called the court Wednesday to find out if “any consequences arouse from his failure to appear.”

There are no issues because Baez let the absence slide despite Belichick being properly served.

“I think Mr. Belichick needs to come to my office and we can address this personally,” Baez joked. “All kidding aside, Judge … it was toward the end of the trial, I believe it was the last day, we didn’t think his testimony was critical to the defense so we released him.”

In most cases, failure to appear is not treated so kindly. In this case, Baez let the coach off the hook, which was enough for Judge Locke.

“Mr. Belichick is relieved from any obligation in regards to this matter,” Locke said.

One more victory for BB.

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