BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez pleaded not guilty Wednesday to two murder charges for allegedly ambushing and gunning down two men in 2012 after one accidentally bumped him and spilled his drink at a nightclub.
Hernandez was arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court and ordered held without bail in the shooting deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. A third man was wounded.
A family member of one of the victims sobbed loudly as Hernandez entered his not guilty plea to seven charges.
During the arraignment, prosecutor Patrick Haggan explained the facts of the case, claiming Hernandez became upset after de Abreu bumped into him and spilled Hernandez’s beverage at the Cure Lounge on Tremont Street in the Theater District in July 2012.
Watch: Prosecutor Presents Facts Of Case
Haggan said the men “had never crossed paths” before that night.
“In fact, none of the victims recognized the defendant as someone they had seen before, either in person or otherwise,” Haggan told the court.
The prosecutor said Hernandez and an unnamed friend walked into the club and stood at the edge of the dance floor.
“Shortly thereafter, Daneil de Abreu, while dancing nearby, accidentally bumped into the defendant, causing the defendant’s drink to partially spill. The defendant became angered and increasingly agitated, particularly after Mr. de Abreu smiled and did not apologize,” Haggan said, adding that there was no argument or physical confrontation between Abreu and Hernandez.
Haggan said Hernandez told his friend that de Abreu deliberately bumped him and was “trying him.” That’s when the friend convinced Hernandez to leave the nightclub. They eventually drove around in Hernandez’s SUV.
“At some point, the evidence suggests they pulled over on a street nearby. There, the defendant opened the hood of the SUV and retrieved the loaded, .38 caliber revolver that he had placed there earlier that night,” Haggan told the court. (Continued)
When de Abreu and Furtado left the club a short time later, Haggan said Hernandez followed them in his SUV and then pulled up alongside them as their vehicle stopped at a red light.
“The defendant leaned out of the driver’s side window of the SUV with a loaded revolver in his hand, extended out and stated, ‘Yo, what’s up now?’ and then a racial slur. The defendant immediately fired at least five rounds from a .38 caliber revolver into the victim’s car,” Haggan said.
“Witnesses reported hearing the clicking noise as the defendant continued to pull the trigger of the gun after all of the loaded bullets had been fired.”
Haggan said Hernandez and the unnamed associate then drove off taking the Massachusetts Turnpike westbound to Hartford, Connecticut.
During the ride that night, Haggan said, “the defendant stated to his friend ‘I think I got one in the head and one in the chest.'”
In Hartford, it’s alleged that Hernandez’s cousin Tanya Singleton brought Hernandez a new vehicle and drove off with his SUV. It was hidden in a garage at Singleton’s home in Bristol, Connecticut for several months, according to Hagan, before it was found there a year after the shootings, covered in cobwebs with a dead battery.
The murder weapon was later found in Massachusetts after a traffic stop, said Haggan.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports
After the statement of facts were presented, Hernandez’s attorney Charlie Rankin complained to Clerk Magistrate Gary Wilson that the jury pool will be tainted by prosecutors laying out the details of murder case in front of a large group of media.
Watch: Hernandez Attorney Complains About Trial Publicity, Magistrate Fires Back
Wilson quickly rebuked Rankin, taking exception to his complaint, saying “we don’t operate behind closed doors.”
Hernandez, 24, already faces charges in the 2013 murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. He was released by the Patriots last summer after his arrest in Lloyd’s shooting death.
Authorities have not said if there is any connection between the 2012 killings and Lloyd’s slaying. Lloyd’s body was found in an industrial area near Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough. Lloyd was dating a sister of Hernandez’s fiancee.
Hernandez’s lawyers have said he is looking forward to proving his innocence.
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