FALL RIVER — Lawyers for Aaron Hernandez rested their case Monday after calling just three witnesses, setting the stage for closing arguments Tuesday in the murder trial of the former New England Patriots star.
The first defense witness, Dr. David J. Greenblatt, who teaches at the Tufts University School of Medicine, testified that using the drug PCP can cause "violent or aggressive behavior," as well as shakiness, sweating, paranoia, and hallucinations.
His testimony was critical because a prosecution witness had linked Hernandez's alleged accomplices in the slaying of Odin L. Lloyd to possible PCP use in the hours leading up to the murder.
Hernandez, 25, has pleaded not guilty to murder and weapons charges in the June 2013 killing of Lloyd, 27, whose bullet-riddled body was found in an industrial park near the athlete's North Attleborough home. The alleged accomplices, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, have also pleaded not guilty to murder charges and will be tried separately.
Prosecutors say the three men picked Lloyd up in a rented Nissan Altima and drove him to the industrial park, where he was shot to death. Investigators have not recovered the .45 caliber Glock used to kill Lloyd.
Witness testifies about the effects of PCP use
Lawyers for Aaron Hernandez called an expert witness Monday to testify about the effects of PCP use on human behavior, in an effort to suggest that a co-defendant of the former New England Patriots star may have killed Odin Lloyd in a drug-induced st
On Monday, prosecutor Patrick Bomberg challenged the testimony of Greenblatt, who said he could not recall whether he had ever treated anyone with PCP psychosis.
Greenblatt also told Bomberg he did not diagnose anyone with PCP psychosis as part of Hernandez's case, and he addressed the question of possible ties between marijuana and alcohol use and violent behavior.
"It may be that alcohol-related violence is just a release of violence that was already there" in a person before intoxication, Greenblatt said, adding that he does not know of any evidence showing a link between marijuana use and violence.
Prosecution witnesses have said Hernandez smoked marijuana frequently in his home and drank alcohol with friends at a Providence bar several hours before Lloyd's killing.
On Monday, Bomberg played video clips of Wallace and Ortiz pulling into Hernandez's driveway in the Altima about three hours before Lloyd's death. Bomberg also played footage of Hernandez, Wallace, and Ortiz returning to the home minutes after the slaying.
In the footage, the men appeared to calmly exit the vehicle, and Greenblatt said he could not tell by viewing the clips whether any of them were under the influence of PCP. At one point in the footage captured after the slaying, Hernandez turned his back on Wallace and Ortiz to reach into the driver's seat.
"Would you ever turn your back on somebody if they had just engaged in some PCP-induced psychosis violence?" Bomberg asked. Judge E. Susan Garsh sustained a defense objection to the question.
The other defense witnesses who testified Monday were private forensic analysts who handled DNA swabs taken from a piece of gum that has emerged as a key piece of evidence in the case.
The gum was stuck to a .45 caliber shell casing that investigators pulled from a dumpster in an Enterprise rental car office in North Attleborough after the murder. Hernandez's DNA profile matched DNA on the casing, which he left in the Altima when he returned the vehicle, prosecutors say.
Forensic analyst Eric Carita took a swab of the gum and sent it to forensic analyst Jennifer Smith to test. Smith said Hernandez's DNA was found on the swab and said it was "extremely likely" that saliva had shifted from the gum to the casing. Under that scenario, Hernandez's DNA could have ended up on the shell casing even if he never handled it.
Both sides will have 90 minutes to make closing arguments Tuesday.
After the current trial concludes, Hernandez faces a separate double murder indictment for allegedly gunning down two men in Boston in July 2012 over a dispute stemming from a spilled drink at a nightclub.
He has also pleaded not guilty in that case, which is slated for trial later this year.
Travis Andersen can be reached at email@example.com.