Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado didn’t get out much.
The Cape Verdean immigrants, both in their late 20s, spent most nights cleaning office buildings. So when de Abreu asked his sister whether he could borrow her car for a night on the town with Furtado and other friends, she was happy to oblige, as long as he returned the vehicle by morning so she could get to her job.
No problem, de Abreu told her.
“He said, ‘I never let you down,’ ” Neusa Abreu said Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court, testifying on the first day of the trial of the man prosecutors say killed her brother and Furtado in a drive-by shooting in the early morning hours of July 16, 2012, in Boston’s South End.
The killer, prosecutor Patrick Haggan told the jury, was Aaron Hernandez, then a star tight end for the New England Patriots.
“The defendant fired five times” into the BMW carrying de Abreu, Furtado, and three friends, Haggan said, pointing repeatedly at Hernandez, who sat nearby in a gray suit at the defense table. “Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Even after that gun was out of bullets, he continued to pull the revolver as it clicked and clicked. He intended to fire much more.’’
Haggan said Hernandez, a regular on the Boston club scene, had taken to carrying a gun because he felt “tried” and “tested” by people who slighted him at night spots, sometimes after team losses during the season.
And on the night of July 15, 2012, Hernandez turned his sights on de Abreu, after the former Cape Verdean police officer mistakenly bumped into him at Cure nightclub, causing Hernandez to spill his drink, Haggan said.
To make matters worse, de Abreu had the temerity to smile at Hernandez after the mishap, Haggan told the jury.
“That smile said it all; that smile was a sign of disrespect, and Aaron Hernandez was furious,” Haggan said.
He told jurors that Alexander Bradley, Hernandez’s friend and marijuana supplier, tried to calm the athlete as he had done countless times before, to no avail.
Hernandez later spotted the men leaving the club, Haggan said, and ordered Bradley to follow them in a Toyota 4Runner as they drove off in Abreu’s BMW around 2:30 a.m.
Haggan said Bradley did as he was told, catching up with the BMW at a stop light at the intersection of Shawmut and Herald streets.
That’s where Hernandez opened fire from the passenger seat, but not before he got Furtado to look his way after twice shouting “yo” at the BMW.
“He wanted the victims in this case to know what was coming,” Haggan said.
But Jose Baez, Hernandez’s lead lawyer, painted a very different picture for the jury, who listened to both opening statements with rapt attention.
The triggerman, Baez said, was Bradley, a violent drug dealer who is currently serving prison time for an unrelated gun offense.
Baez, noting Haggan’s earlier statement that Bradley will testify for prosecutors under an immunity agreement, said the government “made a deal with the devil” by making Bradley their star witness.
In fact, Baez said, Bradley had a prior issue with de Abreu and recognized him that night at the club.
“This did not happen over a spilled drink. This happened over a drug deal,” Baez said, prompting gasps from the section in the courtroom reserved for victims’ families.
Sisters of the two slain men testified later Wednesday and told defense attorney Ronald Sullivan that their brothers did not use drugs or ever mention Bradley’s name.
Both women cried on the stand when Haggan, the prosecutor, produced photos of their siblings and asked whether they recognized them.
“Of course, it’s my brother,” said Furtado’s sister, Safira Furtado, through tears, as she spoke through a Portuguese interpreter.
Other family members wept when photographs of both men appeared on large courtroom monitors.
Hernandez, 27, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder in the case, as well as lesser charges for the nonfatal shootings of the remaining three occupants of the BMW.
He is also charged with witness intimidation for allegedly shooting Bradley in the face during a trip to West Palm Beach, Fla., in February 2013, in an effort to silence him about the killings.
Baez insisted that someone else shot Bradley in that incident in a botched drug deal, which explains why he initially refused to cooperate with police.
“To a drug dealer, South Florida is Candy Land,” said Baez, a high-profile attorney based in Florida.
Haggan conceded in his opening remarks that the defense will “put Alexander Bradley on trial. That’s fine.”
He said the government has a wealth of evidence that will corroborate Bradley’s statements, including phone records, eyewitnesses, and the fact that authorities recovered the 4Runner and the gun used in the slayings from people with close ties to Hernandez.
Crucially, however, they lack forensic evidence tying Hernandez to the crimes and will have to explain a police investigation rife with “misconduct,” Baez countered.
While more than a dozen family members of the victims attended the first day of the trial, one Hernandez supporter attracted considerable attention when she entered the courtroom.
Shayanna Jenkins, his longtime fiance, arrived with one of her attorneys and smiled warmly at Hernandez when she took her seat.
Hernandez looked her way during a break and mouthed “I love you.”
Jenkins testified for prosecutors in Hernandez’s prior murder trial in 2015, when he was convicted of fatally shooting Odin Lloyd, 27, of Dorchester in June 2013.
Hernandez is now serving a life sentence for the slaying of Lloyd, who dated Jenkins’s sister. The state’s highest court will automatically review his first-degree murder conviction in that case at a later date.
Testimony concluded in the double murder trial Wednesday soon after jurors heard a recording of a frantic 911 call that Sean McCann, a Somerville native, placed when he came upon the bullet-riddled BMW on that early morning in the South End.
“One’s hurt bad,” McCann told the dispatcher, as a man’s anguished cries were heard in the background. “The other one’s not moving at all.”
Testimony in the case continues Thursday.