Ex-NFL star begins presenting defense in double-murder trial

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez turns to look at assistant district attorney Patrick Haggan as Haggan questions a prosecution witness during Hernandez's double murder trial at Suffolk Superior Court Monday, April 3, 2017 in Boston. Hernandez is standing trial for the July 2012 killings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado who he encountered in a Boston nightclub. The former NFL player is already serving a life sentence in the 2013 killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, Pool)

BOSTON (AP) Lawyers for former NFL star Aaron Hernandez began presenting their defense at his double-murder trial Monday with a fan who said Hernandez was polite and calm the night he is accused of gunning down two men after a brief encounter at a Boston nightclub.

Hernandez’s legal team began calling witnesses after prosecutors rested their case Monday. The first defense witness was Antoine Salvador, a psychology doctoral student who met Hernandez inside the club and asked him to pose with him for a photo.

Salvador said Hernandez initially politely declined his request but agreed after Salvador told him it was his birthday. When one of Hernandez’s lawyers asked Salvador if Hernandez looked angry, Salvador replied, ”Not at all.”

Salvador said he later saw Hernandez outside the club, about 20 minutes before the shootings. He said he thanked Hernandez for the photo, and Hernandez replied, ”No problem. Have a good night.”

Prosecutors have said Hernandez killed Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado because he felt disrespected after de Abreu bumped into him and spilled his drink. Salvador said he did not see anyone bump into Hernandez.

Lawyers for the former tight end for the New England Patriots have claimed that Alexander Bradley – a friend who was with Hernandez that night – shot the men in a drug dispute.

Bradley testified that Hernandez took out a gun and opened fire on the men’s car at a stoplight two hours after the nightclub encounter. Hernandez is also charged with witness intimidation and accused of shooting Bradley later to silence him as a witness.

Judge Jeffrey Locke told jurors that they could hear closing arguments in the case as early as Thursday. He said no defense witnesses were available to testify Tuesday, but additional witnesses will testify Wednesday.