The jury in Aaron Hernandez's murder trial deliberated for a third day Friday without reaching a verdict.
The jurors have spent 20 hours in the deliberation room since receiving the case late Tuesday. Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh excused them Friday at 1 p.m. EDT, after they asked for an abbreviated session. They will resume deliberations Monday at 9 a.m.
“Until there is a verdict you should do your best to avoid any sort of newspaper or television news or radio news,” Garsh told jurors.
Over the past few days, jurors have sent notes to the court asking for clarification of points of law and assistance indexing and organizing the 439 exhibits in the case. There were no such queries Friday.
Hernandez is charged with three crimes in the 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd. On the count of murder, jurors can find him guilty in the first- or second-degree. He also faces two firearms charges, one for unlawful possession of the murder weapon.
The government never recovered the .45 caliber Glock used to kill Lloyd, so they instead used surveillance footage and testimony from people who had been inside Hernandez's home in the weeks before the shooting to try to convince jurors that Hernandez had access to the gun. They coupled that with testimony from Hernandez's fiancee, Bristol, Conn., native Shayanna Jenkins, who said the former Patriots tight end instructed her to remove a box from their house the day after Lloyd was found dead.
Defense attorneys used the absence of a murder weapon to poke holes in the government's case. The government used ballistics evidence to determine that a .45 caliber Glock fired the fatal shots. Most of the witnesses who said they saw a gun in Hernandez's house said it was a “large, black firearm” but could not provide more details. A sales representative from Glock, Inc. viewed surveillance footage of Hernandez minutes after the shooting and said the former Patriots tight end was holding a gun of the same make and model as the murder weapon - but defense attorneys produced a soft pellet gun to suggest to jurors that there is no way to determine what Hernandez is holding to any degree of certainty, based on grainy surveillance video. Hernandez's lawyers also suggested it could have been a remote control.
Defense lawyer James Sultan said in closing arguments that the Glock representative “says he relied on the curve of the backstrap” to make the identification, “but then he agreed that the curve of a backstrap on an 11-dollar pellet gun looked like a Glock.”
“It's not a clicker, it's not an air soft gun,” Bristol County Assistant District Attorney William McCauley said in his closings. “It's the same gun that he's waltzing around the house with . that he made disappear."