The star prosecution witness in the double murder trial of Aaron Hernandez smiled Tuesday when a defense lawyer portrayed him as a gun-toting drug dealer who falsely accused the former New England Patriots star to save himself.
“I noticed you smiling,” Hernandez attorney Jose Baez said to the witness, Alexander Bradley, during an intense cross examination in Suffolk Superior Court. “Do you realize two men lost their lives?”
Hernandez, 27, has pleaded not guilty to charges of killing Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in a drive-by shooting in Boston’s South End in the early morning hours of July 16, 2012. Prosecutors say Bradley was with Hernandez during the killings.
Hernandez is also charged with shooting Bradley, his former friend and marijuana supplier, between the eyes in Florida in February 2013. Bradley, now imprisoned in Connecticut for an unrelated shooting, is testifying for prosecutors under an immunity deal.
Baez hammered away at that immunity agreement Tuesday, noting that it remained in effect despite Bradley’s admission that he owned multiple firearms as a convicted felon.
Bradley, Baez said, told Hernandez in text messages after the Florida shooting that he had multiple guns and “wolves on deck.” The guns were items that Bradley could “kill Aaron with,” Baez said.
“I told Aaron that I had that” weaponry, Bradley responded. He initially told Baez that “wolves” could mean shooters but then clarified by saying, “wolves to me just mean friends of mine. ... My friends that are violent.”
On Monday, Bradley told jurors that Hernandez was seated in the front passenger seat of a Toyota 4Runner when he reached across Bradley and fired five rounds into the victims’ BMW at a stoplight.
The defense claims Bradley shot the men, and Baez on Tuesday asked him about getting “arrested for a gun offense” in 2014 after entering into the immunity deal.
“You were convicted of that offense,” Baez said.
“I [pleaded] no contest, correct,” Bradley said.
Judge Jeffrey Locke had earlier barred Baez from mentioning the details of that case in front of jurors. Baez was referring to an incident when Bradley shot up a Hartford club after someone shot him outside the establishment.
Baez also questioned Bradley’s account of an altercation Hernandez had with de Abreu inside Cure Lounge, a Theater District club, about two hours before the killings. Bradley had testified that de Abreu angered Hernandez when he bumped into him and spilled a drink on the athlete.
But Baez asserted that a similar incident happened to Hernandez previously, and Hernandez “bought that guy a drink.”
“Not correct,” Bradley said.
Baez also showed the witness images of Hernandez fist-bumping Bradley and smiling after they left Cure on the night of the killings. The attorney pounced on Bradley’s statement that he lost sight of Hernandez during the roughly 10 minutes they were in the club.
Was that because Bradley was engaged in “other business” inside, Baez asked.
Bradley asked him to elaborate, so Baez asked, “what other business are you in, sir? ... Are you a drug dealer?”
“Currently, no,” said Bradley, who earlier testified that he began selling drugs around 2000 and stopped when he was incarcerated in 2014.
Baez said in his opening statement that Bradley shot the two victims over a drug deal.
Bradley, however, said Monday that he never sold drugs in Massachusetts. And he answered “no” on Tuesday morning when prosecutor Patrick Haggan asked him whether he killed de Abreu and Furtado.
Also Tuesday, jurors viewed text messages Hernandez and Bradley exchanged in the months following the Florida shooting. Bradley threatened to sue Hernandez if he did not compensate him for his injuries.
The texts were by turns combative and rueful, with both men saying they loved and missed each other.
Hernandez said in one text that he not only loves Bradley but also watches video clips of them “having fun every day.” He told Bradley he was “all I had.”
Bradley seemed equally upset, telling Hernandez in one text that Bradley’s daughter recently asked “when are we going to stay at Uncle Aaron’s again. ... I really do love you my boy but again you won’t get away with that” shooting.
During a break Tuesday, Hernandez and Bradley locked eyes as court officers escorted Bradley out. Neither man spoke, but Hernandez appeared to flash a slight grin.
Hernandez is already serving a life sentence for the June 2013 fatal shooting of Odin Lloyd. The state’s highest court will review his first-degree murder conviction in that case at a later date.
Bradley returns to the stand in the double murder trial Wednesday.