A defense lawyer for Aaron Hernandez on Thursday criticized the investigation surrounding the double homicide case against his client, suggesting that the state shifted its approach once it became clear that the suspect was famous.
Attorney Jose Baez made the argument in Suffolk Superior Court during a pre-trial hearing. He argued that the former New England Patriots star had been disadvantaged by the lack of surveillance evidence from inside the Theater District nightclub where one of the victims allegedly bumped into Hernandez before the July 2012 shooting.
Baez also argued that the state should not have released the car driven by the victims at the time of the shooting, complaining that the vehicle, which is now in the nation of Georgia, could still contain crucial evidence that might clear Hernandez.
“Initially when this case was investigated, the suspect was not [known to be] an NFL football player, and there was not an unlimited budget, and therefore lots of things that should’ve been done in this case were not,” Baez said.
Prosecutors pushed back against that assessment. Suffolk First Assistant District Attorney Patrick M. Haggan said investigators did a full examination of the BMW occupied by Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in the South End July 16, 2012, and he emphasized that the results of that probe are available to the defense.
He also said investigators did not have information that would have led them to ask for video from inside the Cure Lounge until months after the killing, when a witness provided a narrative describing Hernandez’s contact with the victims inside the club.
By then, there was no tape, though investigators have visual recordings from outside and in the lobby area.
Prosecutors say de Abreu bumped into Hernandez while dancing and caused the athlete to spill some of his drink. That collision angered Hernandez and triggered the killings, they said.
The club may have never had a tape of what happened inside that night, Haggan said, because its recording system had been having problems.
Defense attorneys, who recently toured the club alongside prosecutors, want to perform a more detailed analysis of the club’s surveillance system.
Judge Jeffrey Locke did not rule on the motions regarding the car and surveillance tape. LockeHe also declined to push back the trial date, which is set to begin with jury selection Feb. 13.
Baez, a high-profile defense attorney, who has handled challenging cases in multiple states, made an impassioned plea for more time, arguing that his team is struggling to keep up with what he described as an ongoing investigation of Hernandez by the prosecution.
Baez, whose team was hired by Hernandez in June, said he is working around the clock.
“It is by far the most unprepared I have been in a courtroom in any case across this entire country,” he said.
Hernandez is already serving a life sentence without parole for murdering Odin L. Lloyd in a North Attleborough industrial park in 2013.
Andy Rosen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.