Jurors in the double murder trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez concluded their second day of deliberations Monday, after a defense lawyer clashed with the judge over an allegation of racial bias.
With the jury out of the courtroom Monday morning, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke chided defense attorney Ronald Sullivan from the bench.
The judge said he took exception to Sullivan’s statement last week that Locke’s selection of a white woman to serve as jury foreperson was improper.
Locke said he interpreted Sullivan’s statement to mean that he should not have selected the woman because she is one of two white women on a jury that is mostly made up of minorities.
“I find it astounding that you would make that claim,” Locke said, adding that allegations of bias offend him personally and taint “the integrity of the tribunal.”
Sullivan said he did not argue that the woman shouldn’t have been selected. Rather, he said, Locke should not have chosen her before the three alternates were drawn.
Sullivan said all jurors deserved “the same opportunity” to remain on the jury and serve as a foreperson.
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 Alexander Bradley, his former friend and marijuana supplier, in February 2013 in Florida in an effort to silence him about the killings.
The jury put a question to Locke about the witness intimidation count on Monday afternoon. Jurors said they were unsure if Hernandez “can be found guilty if we find he indirectly willfully threatened . . . or caused physical injury to Alexander Bradley.”
Locke said from the bench that the question was “insightful” and that he would consider the matter overnight before providing an answer Tuesday morning.
The question Monday followed an earlier inquiry from jurors on Friday.
They asked Friday, “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?”
Locke told jurors that a defendant cannot be convicted solely on the word of an immunized witness, and that additional evidence must corroborate at least one element of the charged offense.
Among the immunized witnesses who testified at trial was Bradley.
He told jurors he was driving Hernandez’s Toyota 4Runner when the athlete reached across him and fatally shot de Abreu and Furtado as they sat in a BMW at a stop light.
He also said Hernandez shot him in the face inside a vehicle in Riviera Beach, Fla. and left him for dead in a parking lot.
The defense claims Bradley, an admitted drug dealer currently jailed in Connecticut for shooting up a Hartford club in 2014, shot de Abreu and Furtado over a drug deal, and that someone else shot Bradley over another botched drug sale.
Hernandez is already serving a life sentence for the June 2013 fatal shooting of Odin L. Lloyd, a 27-year-old Dorchester man who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee at the time of his death.
The state’s highest court will automatically review Hernandez’s first-degree murder conviction in the Lloyd case at a later date.
Deliberations in the double murder trial are scheduled to resume Tuesday morning.