Ex-New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez allegedly shot and killed two men in July 2012 because he was angry one of them bumped in to him at a South End night club hours earlier, prosecutors claimed at an arraignment in Suffolk Superior Court on Wednesday.
Shackled and wearing a dark jacket and green neck tie, Hernandez, 24, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and other related charges in the drive-by shooting deaths of of Daniel de Abreu, 28, and Safiro Furtado, 29.
The two men were childhood friends who worked together as housekeepers. According to prosecutors, the pair's only crime was offending the apparently narcissistic NFL star.
Assistant District Attorney Patrick Haggan said that in the time leading up to the 2012 shooting, Hernandez was angry that people were “testing, trying or otherwise disrepecting him when he frequented nightclubs in the area.”
After arriving at Cure Lounge on the night of July 15, Hernandez allegedly became enraged when de Abreu bumped into him while dancing, causing him to spill his drink. He allegedly told a friend who was with him that he felt he was “being targeted and disrespected” and that Abreu was “trying him,” Haggan said.
The friend tried to calm him down, Haggan said, but it was no use.
Later, Hernandez allegedly followed the car that Abreu and Furtado were riding in, pulled up alongside them, aimed a revolver and said “Yo what's up now [racial slur]?” He then allegedly shot them dead and injured another man in the back seat, then fled to Connecticut.
He was ordered held without bail, and is due to return to court on June 24. Hernandez is awaiting trial in the 2013 shooting death of a Dorchester man, Odin Lloyd.
After prosecutors laid out their allegations against Hernandez, Defense Attorney Charlie Rankin slammed the court for allowing what he described as a "speech" that would poison a potential jury pool.
"I object to state allowing prosecution to make a speech to play to the media," Rankin fumed. "The court has just played along with that. This is not supposed to be a spectacle… It's not fair. Whether he's a football player or a poor person… he's entitled to the court's assistance securing him a fair trial."
"Just give us a fair trial, not one tainted by unfair, one sided, unnecessary prejudicial publicity," Rankin continued.
Wilson shut down Rankin's claim, saying he has overseen 1,900 arraignments in his career and that the comments made by prosecutors were not unusual.
"I will note that this arraignment started at [2:01 p.m.] and it’s now about [2:16 p.m.]. This has been a very quick proceeding," Wilson said. "I was not going to preclude the Commonwealth from telling the court about the case presented today… I could not envision a proceeding when the press would not be invited to attend. We do not operate behind closed doors. This is an open proceeding."
Hernandez was ordered held without bail, and is due to return to court on June 24. He is also awaiting trial in the 2013 shooting death of a Dorchester man, Odin Lloyd.