Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez, who is in jail awaiting trial for a 2013 murder charge, was indicted Thursday for an unrelated double murder in 2012 in Boston.
A grand jury in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, voted Thursday morning to charge Hernandez with two counts of first-degree murder for killing Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado at a stoplight in South Boston on July 16, 2012, District Attorney Daniel Conley said during a news conference.
“The grand jury remains open so it is possible that other charges could be had,” Conley said of the investigation. “We are quite confident in our evidence, that’s why we asked the grand jury to vote on it this morning, that Aaron Hernandez is the principal.”
Conley said the nearly two-year investigation included testimony from some two dozen witnesses and more than 80 pieces of evidence. Among them is a .38 caliber Smith and Wessen revolver Hernandez allegedly used in the shooting as well as the SUV, which was recovered at the home of a relative of Hernandez in Bristol, Connecticut.
On the morning Abreu and Furtado were killed, they were described as being tied a gang based in Dorchester, but Conley refuted those claims and apologized to the victim’s families Thursday.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Conley said. “Neither were involved in gang activity of any kind.”
Conley and Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said instead that Hernandez and the two victims had never met before the night of the murders.
“This was a chance encounter at the nightclub Cure and basically had an encounter that led to, obviously, their deaths,” Evans said.
Investigators say Hernandez and an associate followed the victims in an SUV after they left the Cure Lounge in South Boston at 2 a.m. that morning. When the victims stopped at a red light, Hernandez pulled the SUV along the right side of their BMW car and opened fire on its passenger side with a .38 revolver.
Police say Abreu, the driver, suffered multiple wounds, including a fatal gunshot to the chest, and Furtado, who was in the passenger seat, suffered a fatal shot to the head. Of the three remaining passengers in the car, one was shot in the arm and the other two escaped unharmed. Hernandez was also indicted on charges of three counts of armed assault and attempted murder for these allegations.
Hernandez is expected to be arraigned in Boston next week.
The double murder Hernandez is charged with occurred a year before the murder of Odin Lloyd near Hernandez’s home on June 17, 2013. The prosecution in that case alleges Hernandez executed Lloyd, an acquaintance, for speaking with people Hernandez “had troubles with” at a Boston-area nightclub.
The prosecutions’ timelines in the two cases would indicate that Hernandez committed a double murder in July, received a $40 million contract extension from the Patriots in August, then played the 2012-13 season. Hernandez has been also sued in connection with another shooting in February 2013, in which acquaintance Alexander Bradley alleges Hernandez shot him in the face following an argument in a Miami nightclub. Hernandez has not been charged in that case, but his lawyers have filed at postponement request in federal court until his murder charges are resolved.