Jurors began deliberating Tuesday in the murder trial of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez after his lawyer acknowledged for the first time that his client was at the scene of the killing and saw it happen but described him as a kid who simply did not know what to do.
"Did he make all the right decisions? No," lawyer James Sultan said during his closing arguments in Fall River, Mass. "He was a 23-year-old kid who witnessed something, a shocking killing, committed by someone he knew. He didn't know what to do, so he just put one foot in front of the other."
Hernandez is charged in the June 17, 2013, death of Odin Lloyd, 27, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee. Lloyd was shot six times in an industrial park less than a mile from Hernandez's home. At the time, the star tight end had a $40-million contract with the Patriots.
Sultan pinned the killing on Hernandez's co-defendants, his friends Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz. Both men have pleaded not guilty and will be tried later.
But Assistant District Attorney William McCauley told jurors the evidence showed that Hernandez was the gunman, that he had a plan to kill Lloyd and that he drove Lloyd to his death in a deserted place in an undeveloped part of the industrial park.
"Ask yourself what was the purpose in driving to that spot at that time?" McCauley asked. "He was driving. He's the one who veered off the course to go down. There was no other purpose to go down there."