Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez takes stand in Aaron Hernandez trial
In 2015 she took his name, despite his conviction for murdering her sister’s boyfriend.
And on Thursday in Suffolk Superior Court, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez took pointed questions from prosecutors determined to prove Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots star and father of her daughter, killed two other men in a drive-by shooting in Boston.
Hernandez, 27, has pleaded not guilty to charges of fatally shooting Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in the early morning hours of July 16, 2012. He has also pleaded not guilty to a witness intimidation charge in the shooting of Alexander Bradley, his former friend and marijuana supplier, in February 2013 in Florida to silence him about the killings. He is serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd.
Prosecutor Patrick Haggan displayed phone records Thursday showing that Hernandez placed a 17-second phone call to Jenkins-Hernandez at 2:37 a.m. minutes after de Abreu and Furtado were shot and killed.
But Jenkins-Hernandez, who was vacationing in Florida, testified that she did not remember details of the call.
“Not necessarily,” she said when Haggan asked if it was uncommon for Hernandez to call at that hour. “My phone was [on] 24 hours. If he wanted to call at 4 o’clock in the morning, he could.”
She also said she learned from “another source,” whom she did not name, that Bradley had been shot several months later.
Jenkins-Hernandez, testifying under a grant of immunity, said she may have spoken generally with Hernandez about Bradley’s shooting but asked few questions about it.
“I don’t know Sharrod personally,” she said, using Bradley’s middle name. “He was not my friend . . . Yes, it’s a sad situation [but] why should I press about something like that?”
Jenkins-Hernandez, who never married Hernandez despite taking his name, repeatedly said she could not recall details about her conversations with him after the killings.
At Haggan’s request, Jenkins-Hernandez read aloud previous grand jury testimony in which she said, “I learned to keep my mouth shut in certain situations. . . . I played my role.”
The defense contends Bradley, an admitted drug dealer, shot the two Boston victims over a drug transaction.
Bradley, currently jailed in Connecticut for an unrelated shooting in 2014, testified for prosecutors last week under an immunity deal. From the bench, he said he watched Hernandez fire five shots into the victims’ BMW.
On Thursday, defense lawyer Ronald Sullivan tried to paint Bradley as someone who caused Jenkins-Hernandez concern.
“You thought Bradley was bad news,” Sullivan said.
“I did,” Jenkins-Hernandez responded.
Hernandez and his longtime fiancee had little interaction during her time on the witness stand. Occasionally, Hernandez smiled and laughed at some of her responses, and when she stated the approximate date of his father’s death, he nodded.
Haggan also zeroed in Thursday on Hernandez’s tattoos, which have figured prominently in the trial.
Hernandez had the image of a six-shot revolver cylinder with one empty chamber tattooed on his arm in the spring of 2013, near the phrase “God Forgives” written backwards. He also had firearm muzzles and a spent shell casing tattooed on his arm.
Prosecutors contend those tattoos are tantamount to an admission of guilt, and Haggan asked Jenkins-Hernandez Thursday if the former athlete’s body art carries personal meaning.
“I wouldn’t say that’s accurate,” she said. “There’s some [tattoos] that do . . . but I can’t remember those words coming out of his mouth.”
Sullivan tried to undercut the prosecution’s tattoo theory on cross-examination, rattling off major life events that Hernandez did not memorialize on his skin.
Did Hernandez get a tattoo of a man catching a football whenever he scored a game-winning touchdown, Sullivan asked as an example.
“No,” Jenkins-Hernandez said with a chuckle.
How about a tattoo of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick handing Hernandez a team jersey after he was drafted, Sullivan asked. No, Jenkins-Hernandez said again.
“Do you know anything about what happened on July 16, 2012?” Sullivan asked, referencing the date of the killings.
“No,” Jenkins-Hernandez said. She gave the same response when asked about the date of Bradley’s shooting.
In 2015, Hernandez was found guilty in the June 2013 fatal shooting of Lloyd, a 27-year-old Dorchester man who was dating Jenkins-Hernandez’s sister, Shaneah, at the time of his death.
Lloyd’s slaying drove a wedge between the two sisters, who were once close but sat on opposite sides of the courtroom during Hernandez’s trial for that killing. Jenkins-Hernandez testified in the Lloyd trial as well and said she and her sister were “estranged, kind of.”
She said during that trial that she had removed a box from the North Attleborough home she shared with Hernandez the day after Lloyd’s murder, at her fiance’s request.
Jenkins-Hernandez did not specify what was in the box. Authorities believed it contained the firearm used to kill Lloyd.
Prosecutors in the double murder case say Hernandez fired the fatal shots from the front passenger seat of his Toyota 4Runner.
The 4Runner vanished after the killings and was found nearly a year later in his cousin’s garage in Bristol, Conn.
Jenkins-Hernandez told Haggan Thursday that she wasn’t sure if Hernandez ever left the 4Runner there before July 2012.
“I wasn’t with him every time he went over there,” she said.
Nor did she keep close tabs on Hernandez whenever he went out with friends, including Bradley.
“You’re talking to someone that stayed in the room and did what I had to do,” Jenkins-Hernandez said.
Testimony in the trial resumes Friday. Prosecutors are close to resting their case, which they began presenting on March 1.