Jurors in the double murder trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez interrupted deliberations Friday afternoon to ask a question about witnesses with immunity.
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke read the question around 2:30 p.m., after jurors had deliberated for roughly five hours.
The question was, “If an immunized witness provides specific testimony that we believe would give enough evidence for a conviction, do we have to have corroborating evidence for that specific piece of testimony?”
The word “specific” was underlined.
Locke told jurors that state law prohibits a defendant from being convicted solely on the word of an immunized witness. Jurors need additional evidence that corroborates at least one element of the charged offense, he said.
Hernandez 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 charges of shooting Alexander Bradley, his former friend and marijuana supplier, in February 2013 in Florida in an effort to silence him about the killings.
Bradley is jailed in Connecticut for shooting up a Hartford club in 2014. He testified for prosecutors under an immunity deal.
He said he was driving Hernandez’s Toyota 4Runner when the athlete reached across him and shot de Abreu and Furtado as they sat in a BMW at a stoplight.
Bradley was not the only immunized witness at trial.
Locke dismissed jurors around 4 p.m. and reminded them not to discuss the case with anyone or watch news coverage about it over the weekend.
He also instructed the panel to avoid the new Fox reality series “You The Jury.” Jose Baez, Hernandez’s lead lawyer, appears on the current episode.
On Friday morning, the jury of seven women and five men heard final instructions from Locke before exiting to the deliberation room just after 9:20 a.m.
“Your deliberations are secret to you and you alone,” Locke told jurors.
The jury heard three hours of closing arguments Thursday.
Before the jury entered court Friday morning, Ronald Sullivan, a lawyer for Hernandez, raised concerns that reporters may have contacted the woman designated as the jury foreperson, since her name was widely posted to the Internet on Thursday night.
Locke asked Sullivan if he was accusing media members in the courtroom of contacting the juror.
“Oh, I never accuse them of anything, Your Honor,” Sullivan said, prompting laughter from the press corps.
Hernandez is serving a life sentence for the June 2013 fatal shooting of Odin Lloyd. The state’s highest court will automatically review his first-degree murder conviction in that case at a later date.
He entered court Friday afternoon grinning. Hernandez also scanned the back of the room before taking his seat, and he hugged his lawyers on the way out.
Deliberations resume Monday morning.Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.