BOSTON (CBS) – Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez has been found not guilty of murder and several other charges related to the 2012 killing of two men.
Hernandez was acquitted of all charges with the exception of possession of a firearm without a license.
He was on trial for two counts of first-degree murder in the shootings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston’s South End on July 16, 2012.
For the gun possession charge, Hernandez received 4-5 years in prison. He is already serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd.
Hernandez wiped tears from his eyes as the verdict was read.
Jurors did not take questions but read a brief statement in the courtroom.
“We the jury heard from over 70 witnesses and over 380 exhibits over five weeks. We deliberated for six days. We base our decision based on the evidence presented and the law. We have no further comment,” said foreman Lindsey Stringer.
Hernandez’s lead defense attorney Jose Baez, who was not in court due to medical issues, weighed in on the verdict on TMZ. His client, he argued, was only guilty of hanging with a tough crowd.
“Aaron’s not a killer,” Baez told TMZ. “Like I said during opening statement. You lie down with crap you’re going to come up stinking.”
Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley said he was “clearly disappointed” by the verdict. Conley said he met with de Abreu and Furtado’s family members after the verdict was read.
“It goes without saying they are devastated after this verdict,” he said.
During a press conference of his own, defense attorney Ronald Sullivan called it “the only fair and just verdict that was available,” calling Hernandez a “beautiful young man and a happy-go-lucky young man.”
“Hopefully the public will see that just because one is a celebrity, just because one is a New England Patriot, they deserve the same treatment under the law as everybody else,” said Sullivan after the verdict was read. “I think it was clear in Bristol (County) that Mr. Hernandez was treated differently, that his celebrity worked adverse to his interest. And to the extent that that becomes an issue in his appeal or post-conviction, then it may be relevant.”
Hernandez’s fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, shed tears in the courtroom as the jury’s decision was announced.
Jurors deliberated for nearly six days and about 36 hours before reaching the verdict Friday just before 3 p.m.
Family members of both victims sobbed in court as the decision was read.
Hernandez was acquitted on three counts of armed assault with intent to murder for allegedly shooting at three survivors; one count of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and one count of witness intimidation.
Defense attorneys suggested that it was the prosecution’s star witness, Alexander Bradley, who committed the murders.
Conley, meanwhile, maintained that the prosecution still believes “the evidence points inescapably to Aaron Hernandez.”
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans was also disappointed with the verdict.
“I have the utmost respect for the Jury and thank them for their service but simply disagree with the verdict reached,” Evans said. “The evidence in this case all points to Aaron Hernandez as the sole person responsible for the tragic and untimely deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.”
When Hernandez was convicted in Lloyd’s, jurors deliberated for 36 hours over seven days.
The former tight end is charged with shooting Bradley in the face. Prosecutors say it was an attempt to silence Bradley, who claimed in testimony last month to have seen Hernandez shoot the victims.
Hernandez also has a civil case pending against him, with the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Odin Lloyd’s mother Ursula Ward, who is trying to get any money the former Patriot may have left.
Ward’s attorney in the civil case says she is looking forward to her day in court.
“She is very grateful therefore that the upcoming trial in the Aaron Hernandez case, will not be about Aaron Hernandez, but will be about Odin Lloyd,” attorney Douglas Sheff said.
Sheff expects the civil case to go to trial sometime late this spring or early this summer.