ONE OF THE most agonizing moments in the murder trial of NFL star Aaron Hernandez came in its opening stages, in February, when the judge told the victim’s mother, Ursula Ward, not to cry in the Fall River courtroom as she looked at a photograph of her son’s dead body. The judge felt the order was necessary to preserve courtroom decorum. But now that the jury has returned its guilty verdict, and Hernandez has been sentenced to life behind bars, it was only right to give Ward and the rest of her family the chance to remember her son, Dorchester resident Odin L. Lloyd.
Lloyd, a landscaper and semiprofessional football player, was killed by Hernandez on June 17, 2013; two Hernandez associates, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, also face charges in the killing. The precise motive for the murder remains unclear, but prosecutors raised the possibility that Hernandez was angry at Lloyd after Lloyd began speaking to other individuals at a bar two nights before the shooting. Hernandez left the body in an industrial yard in North Attleborough. Lloyd was 27.
In addition to his mother, Lloyd left two sisters. Members of his family offered moving statements in court on Wednesday, recalling a proud, hard-working man who bicycled 10 miles to work every day, before the judge sentenced Hernandez to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The jurors, who carefully deliberated for seven days, also convicted Hernandez on weapons charges.
Whatever his motive, Hernandez’s actions showed a staggering disdain for human life. And he faces more legal problems: Hernandez has also been charged in the killings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston in 2012, allegedly after one of the men spilled a drink on him at a nightclub. The picture that has emerged during the trial showed a troubled, thin-skinned man with a depraved attachment to violence; Massachusetts is a bit safer with him behind bars.
Because of his football talent and fame, Hernandez received opportunities that Lloyd never had, and was showered with money and second chances that most people can only dream of. Now, though, let the victim be the one who is remembered. Lloyd’s mother deserves the last word: “Odin was my first, best gift I ever received. I thank God every second and every day of my son’s life that I spent with him.”