QUINCY — The father of one of the men Aaron Hernandez was cleared of killing said Wednesday night that he was shocked and saddened to learn the former New England Patriots star had apparently committed suicide.
“I never thought Aaron Hernandez would reject his own life,” said Salvatore Furtado, the father of Safiro Furtado, through an interpreter.
The elder Furtado spoke during a news conference at the office of William T. Kennedy, a lawyer representing his family in a wrongful-death lawsuit against Hernandez’s estate.
The families of Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu will continue to pursue their civil cases, Kennedy said.
Salvatore Furtado, Kennedy said, “wants to see accountability for his son’s death.”
Speaking next to framed pictures of Safiro Furtado and de Abreu, Salvatore Furtado, 60, said he believes that “when God created people, he gave them a commandment to respect life.”
“Only God has the right to take somebody’s life,” Furtado continued. “It’s very painful to me when somebody takes their own life.”
Earlier Wednesday, Ernesto Abreu said there was no satisfaction in Hernandez’s death: It will not bring his son back from his grave.
“When I woke up this morning, I checked the Internet, and that’s how I learned that he had killed himself,” the 61-year-old Abreu told the Globe in a conversation carried out in Cape Verdean Creole Wednesday.
He added: “I’m not happy about his death. It’s actually a shame. Any loss of life is a shame. I believe in leaving things in God’s hands.”
Kennedy reiterated that both victims’ families were devastated by Hernandez’s acquittal.
He said Salvatore Furtado had told him that attending the trial “was like reliving the death of his son.”
Despite the acquittal, Kennedy said, he believes the families still have a strong case, noting the lower standard of proof in civil trials.
He said he was uncertain what assets Hernandez’s estate still has.
In addition, Kennedy said he was unsure whether Hernandez’s death may entitle his estate to any money from the Patriots.
Under Massachusetts law, Hernandez’s convictions for killing Odin Lloyd and related offenses will likely be erased, since he had not yet exhausted his appeals.
It is unclear, Kennedy said, whether Hernandez’s estate could then claim a $3.5 million payout that the Patriots owed him at the time of his arrest, before he was cut from the team.
“That’s something we intend to look at,” Kennedy said.
He stressed that the Abreu and Furtado families want justice for their loved ones, two Cape Verdean immigrants who worked overnight cleaning offices.
The slain friends are now buried side-by-side at Mt. Hope Cemetery.
“They were more than cleaners,” Kennedy said. “They were two very special people. . . . They were good people who deserved to live, and that was robbed from them. And their companionship was robbed from their families.”
Ernesto Abreu was a constant presence in Suffolk Superior Court, where Hernandez was tried — and acquitted just last Friday of murdering his son and Safiro Furtado in a hail of bullets July 16, 2012.
Ernesto Abreu, who speaks limited English, listened to the witnesses with the help of a translator who relayed the dialogue to him through a set of large earphones. Both he and his son’s wife, Auriza, wiped tears from their eyes as a prosecutor described Daniel’s final moments of life during closing arguments.
Suffolk prosecutors alleged that a minor mishap between Daniel de Abreu inside the Cure nightclub cost the two men their lives. In what prosecutors said was a gross insult to the murdered men, Hernandez’s defense team portrayed de Abreu as a drug dealer shot to death by the star prosecution witness, Alexander Bradley.
As he stood in his home near Uphams Corner wearing a red shirt, Ernesto Abreu described the range of emotions he experienced in recent days. He said he’d been praying often recently and throughout the weeks-long trial. He shrugged his shoulders and teared up, speaking in a resigned fashion. Nobody feels good right now, he said, but God protects us.
In a followup interview by phone, he said he wished the case had turned out differently.
“My family and I thought the evidence in the case was concrete, that he killed my son and Furtado, but the jury — it was up to them to decide, and they decided that there wasn’t enough evidence,” Abreu said. “It’s been a long and difficult experience, going through the trial and at the end to hear, ‘Not guilty,’ that really shook us.”
He said “not guilty” in English, emphasizing and drawing out the word.
“Legally, there is no one at blame for my son’s death, and, yes, I’m sad about that. But we are moving on from this,” Abreu said.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Brian Ballou of the Sun-Sentinel contributed. Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Cristela Guerra can be reached email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @CristelaGuerra.