Aaron Hernandez hires Jose Baez and Harvard Law professor
Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez has new lawyers for his upcoming double murder trial in Boston, a team led by the Florida attorney who represented Casey Anthony — who was accused of killing her toddler daughter — and a Harvard Law School professor who represents the family of an alleged Muslim terrorist shot by police.
Florida attorney Jose Baez wrote in a statement that his law firm now represents Hernandez, who is accused of murdering two men in Boston’s South End in 2013, a case that is steadily working its way toward trial in Suffolk Superior Court.
“I can now confirm that my firm has been retained to represent Mr. Aaron Hernandez in his upcoming trial,’’ Baez wrote in a statement e-mailed to the Globe. “Mr. Hernandez strongly maintains his innocence, and I plan to establish that before a jury of his peers. I have fully committed myself to ensuring a fair and just trial for Mr. Hernandez.’’
Joining Baez in representing Hernandez — who is already serving a life without parole sentence for the murder of Odin L. Lloyd in 2013 — will be Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., a Harvard Law professor who has represented the family of Usaama Rahim after the 26-year-old man was shot in Roslindale during a confrontation with Boston Police and Joint Terrorism Task Force members.
Sullivan is also widely respected in the legal community for creating the Conviction Review Unit in the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. In that unit, prosecutors try to identify wrongful convictions instead of leaving it to the defense attorneys to take the first step.
Baez gained national prominence by successfully defending Anthony, a Florida woman who had been charged with murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.
Anthony was acquitted of first-degree murder and other felonies but convicted of four misdemeanors in 2013.
In the statement, Baez identified the other members of what he called “the best legal team in the country’’ as Alex Spiro, a trial expert, and Linda Kenney Baden, a lawyer specializing in forensic sciences who also participated in the Anthony defense.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder, as well as weapons charges, in the July 2012 fatal drive-by shootings of Daniel de Abreu, 28, and Safiro Furtado, 29, in Boston’s South End.
“We understand that numerous reports of our client’s alleged activity have been published, but we ask the public to afford Mr. Hernandez the presumption of innocence and let the facts unfold in a court of law,’’ Baez said.
Hernandez was convicted in Bristol Superior Court of murdering Lloyd. He was represented there by Boston attorneys Michael Fee, James L. Sultan, and Charles Rankin. Sultan and Rankin have represented Hernandez in the Suffolk Superior Court case until Baez’s hiring.
Sultan, in an e-mail sent to the Globe, confirmed he and his law partner, Rankin, are no longer representing Hernandez in the double-murder trial.
“It is our understanding that Aaron Hernandez has retained new counsel to represent him in the pending Suffolk County murder case,’’ Sultan wrote on behalf of himself and Rankin. “We wish Aaron well.’’
The next court date for the Hernandez case is Aug. 16, according to court records.
Correction: The headline of an earlier version of this story misnamed the Harvard Law School professor hired by Aaron Hernandez. He is Ronald Sullivan Jr.