The man in the picture to the right is named Alexander Bradley. He has one working eye, his left. That's because, he alleges in a civil suit, Aaron Hernandez shot him in the face while driving home from a night of partying in South Florida in February of 2013. Hernandez, according to Bradley, then left him in a field near a John Deere dealership where he could've died if not for some workers finding him.
Alexander Bradley was on the witness stand Wednesday but he didn't get to tell that story to a jury trying to determine if Hernandez, a few months later in 2013, shot a man named Odin Lloyd six times and left him dead in a field near an industrial park in North Attleboro, Mass.
The man in the picture, the one with that one working eye because he was shot in the face, is expected to provide crushing testimony in Hernandez's separate double-homicide trial up in Boston later this year.
He will be called then to say that on a summer night in 2012, he and Hernandez were in a Boston nightclub when some kind of dispute occurred with another group of patrons. Hernandez left the club enraged and spent an hour in his SUV, circling the block in the South End, waiting for the other guys to leave.
At about 2:10 a.m., when the other group was spotted and drove away, prosecutors allege Hernandez followed them to a nearby stoplight where he leaned out his window and unloaded a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson into the other car. Two men died, another was wounded. Two others climbed out a rear door and ran for their lives. Hernandez then sped away.
Alexander Bradley saw it all but didn't get to tell any of that Wednesday to the jury trying to figure out what motive Hernandez might have had for shooting Lloyd (perhaps the weakest part of the Commonwealth's case). It points to a possibility – maybe even a probability – that Hernandez had no motive … other than the fact that this is apparently what he does: he shoots people, specifically late at night when drunk and high.
In the most surreal moment of the now 38-day long Hernandez trial in Bristol County (Mass.) Superior Court, a man with stories to tell, with profound and telling information to share with a jury desperate for it, a man with one eye allegedly blasted out by the very defendant seated just a few feet in front of him, had to clam up and not share any of that.
Not any of that at all.
This was not unexpected. This is the law. Judge E. Susan Garsh prohibited any information about so-called "prior bad acts" from being entered into this case even if the alleged prior bad acts were very, very bad and similar to the bad acts in question here. It's considered too prejudicial to Hernandez, almost assuredly resulting in a conviction.
The district attorney's office tried to appeal but lost in pretrial motions. It tried again during this lengthy trial, arguing relevancy after defense attorney Michael Fee said during his opening statement that Hernandez had no motive to shoot his friend and fellow marijuana enthusiast Odin Lloyd, because who just up and does that? The Commonwealth said the door was open since Bradley, one of Hernandez's friends and a fellow marijuana enthusiast, was more than willing to tell about that time Hernandez shot him in the head.
The state Supreme Court rejected that argument, too.
Again, that's the system. Tough break for the prosecution, but the state has plenty of its advantages in the system.
In other kinds of cases in other courts, say government corruption or child molestation, prosecutors can group all the alleged crimes into one case and overwhelm a jury with the sheer volume of allegations. They almost never lose under those circumstances.
Not this time, though. Not in this place, though.
So this was what was left on Wednesday, as this case winds down and the prosecution is expected to rest on Thursday – the system in full effect. What could've been the most damaging witness offering the most damning testimony was mostly neutered, left to offer nothing more than supporting information for the Commonwealth's already fairly strong case against Hernandez.
For instance, Bradley saw Hernandez with a Glock semi-automatic pistol in a West Palm Beach, Fla., hotel room just a few months before Lloyd was murdered by what the prosecution alleges was a Glock semi-automatic pistol.
Bradley hung out often in the basement "man cave" in Hernandez's home, where he knew of the presence of a black "lock box, a safe," in a storage room that contained a firearm, cash and marijuana blunts.
No safe, nor Glock, was ever found in Hernandez's home but the jury has heard and seen plenty of Hernandez's fiancée spiriting a box wrapped in a garbage bag and covered in baby clothes out of the basement the day after the murder. She testified Monday she took it to a mystery dumpster, the whereabouts she swears she can't recall. She said she had no idea what was in the box but did note it smelled of marijuana.
Then there was the time Bradley was in Florida once with Hernandez when they hung out with a man named Oscar Hernandez (no relation), who everyone called "Papoo" and prosecutors have alleged was a gun dealer. Prior evidence showed Aaron wired Papoo $15,000.
And there were plenty of stories about Aaron Hernandez "chain smoking" marijuana, often provided by Bradley. At one point Bradley even revealed it was agreed that he was to be the Godfather of Hernandez's daughter, whatever that means to these guys.
Bradley is a mess himself, testifying here under an immunity deal. He's no hero and not just because of his lengthy police record. Back in 2013, he refused to cooperate with police when Hernandez shot him. If he had, Lloyd might be alive. And he never came forward with information in 2012 about the Boston double homicide until Hernandez was arrested for Lloyd's murder (then Bradley conveniently sued Hernandez in civil court).
Had Bradley spoken up sooner, he could have saved Lloyd's life and his own face. Instead he maintained his friendship with a rich, NFL celebrity.
His current residence is a Connecticut jail where he awaits resolution of multiple charges stemming from a February 3, 2014, incident outside a Hartford nightclub. Bradley was shot multiple times that evening, according to police records, before returning to sweep the front of the place with 11 bullets.
The jury will take all of that for what they will. He appeared to be a decent, but hardly perfect, prosecution witness.
After a long morning, Bradley was released from the witness stand and taken back to Connecticut.
His old buddy Aaron, who once thought this clown would be an effective "Godfather" to his daughter, sat a few feet away, himself living behind bars.
They'll meet again in the Boston double-homicide trial later this year, Bradley then free to be a powerhouse eyewitness providing a first-hand account of Hernandez killing people.
If Hernandez is not yet a convicted murderer at that point, meaning he beats the charges down in Fall River, then by far the No. 1 reason will be because Alexander Bradley couldn't tell the whole story to the Bristol County jury on Wednesday.
That's the system though, no matter how strange a scene it can occasionally produce.