Lawyers for Aaron Hernandez rested their case Wednesday in his double murder trial, but not before accusing prosecutors of knowingly using false testimony from the government’s star witness.
Defense attorney George Leontire leveled the charge in Suffolk Superior Court when he argued a motion to dismiss the indictment against Hernandez, a former New England Patriots star.
Judge Jeffrey Locke denied the motion. He heard arguments without the jury present.
Leontire said prosecutors knew Alexander Bradley was lying when he testified that Hernandez shot him in February 2013 in Florida.
Prosecutors elicited the testimony despite knowing Bradley had sent a text to his lawyer in July 2013, raising concerns about being charged with perjury if he told a grand jury “the truth” about not knowing who shot him.
“This is clearly use of perjured testimony before this court,” Leontire said.
Prosecutor Patrick Haggan denied that Bradley perjured himself, noting that he explained the context of the text message when he testified during Hernandez’s trial.
Bradley testified last month that the text related to a lawsuit he filed against Hernandez over the alleged Florida shooting.
He said he initially wanted to tell a grand jury that he did not recall who shot him, to shield Hernandez from criminal charges. However, Bradley added, he worried about being charged with perjury if he later signed a civil settlement agreement indicating Hernandez had shot him.
In denying the dismissal motion Wednesday, Locke said he does not assume Bradley lied at trial. “That is for a jury to determine,” Locke said.
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.
He has also pleaded not guilty to a witness intimidation charge for allegedly shooting Bradley in an effort to silence him about the killings.
Bradley, who testified under an immunity agreement, said he was behind the wheel of Hernandez’s Toyota 4Runner when the former tight end reached across him and fired five shots into the victims’ BMW.
The defense claims Bradley, an admitted drug dealer currently jailed in Connecticut for an unrelated shooting, shot de Abreu and Furtado over a botched drug transaction.
During later testimony Wednesday, William Jacob Green, a digital forensic examiner retained by the defense, testified that Bradley deleted the perjury text from his cellphone.
He told Haggan on cross-examination that Bradley also deleted many other mundane texts about items including sneakers.
The final defense witness was Dr. Jamie Downs, a forensic pathologist. He said the wounds of Furtado, who sat in the front passenger seat of the BMW, show that his face was turned toward the shooter and that he had his right arm raised.
He said he could not tell where Furtado’s forearm was positioned, but he included a diagram he created showing Furtado’s arm fully extended out the window toward the 4Runner.
He also performed a demonstration for jurors, with Jeohn Favors, a legal staffer working with the defense, wearing a shirt like the one Furtado wore the night he was killed, with markings showing his wounds.
Downs raised Favors’s right arm and fully extended it outward, saying the positioning was consistent with Furtado’s wounds.
His testimony appeared to support the notion that Furtado was armed with a gun. The defense has previously raised the specter of someone in the BMW returning fire.
But on cross-examination, prosecutor Mark Lee said Downs altered findings related to Furtado when he submitted a second report on the case.
“Did you find one shred of evidence suggesting that Mr. Furtado was holding a gun?” Lee asked.
“Yes, with an explanation,” Downs replied. “I know the arm had to be up. . . . I don’t know where his forearm was.”
Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday morning. The trial began March 1.
Hernandez smiled Wednesday at his longtime fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, during a break in testimony. She previously testified for prosecutors and said she could not recall a 17-second phone call that Hernandez placed to her minutes after the double murder, at 2:37 a.m.
Jenkins-Hernandez on Wednesday sat one row in front of de Abreu’s father, Ernesto Abreu.
When court adjourned for the day, Hernandez hugged defense attorney Ronald Sullivan, who said to him, “my man.”
Hernandez is already serving a life sentence for the June 2013 fatal shooting of Odin L. Lloyd. The state’s highest court will automatically review his first-degree murder conviction in that case at a later date.