Aaron Hernandez indicted on charge of witness intimidation
A Boston grand jury has indicted former NFL star Aaron Hernandez on a new charge tied to a 2012 double murder – this one alleging that he shot a witness to those killings in Florida the following year.
Hernandez, convicted by a jury in April in another killing and sentenced to life in prison, now faces a witness intimidation charge in the shooting of Alexander Bradley, who allegedly was dumped along a road and left for dead in Palm Beach County.
Bradley, who lost an eye in the incident but survived, was allegedly riding with Hernandez when the then-New England Patriots tight end is alleged to have shot and killed two men –Daniel de Abreu, 29, and Safiro Furtado, 28 — and wounded a friend of theirs. Prosecutors have asserted that shooting, which occurred early the morning of July 16, 2012, was the result of a chance encounter at a nightclub in Boston’s theater district in which one of the victims inadvertently bumped Hernandez on a dance floor, spilling his drink, and failed to apologize.
Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk County (Mass.) District Attorney Dan Conley, said Monday the shooting in Florida came after Bradley made an unspecified remark about the Boston killings.
The grand jury issued the indictment Friday, but it wasn’t unsealed until Monday.
Wark said prosecutors will file a motion to join the case in the Bradley shooting with the other charges Hernandez is already facing in the slayings of De Abreu and Furtado.
A hearing in the Bradley shooting is scheduled for May 21, although it is not anticipated that Hernandez will appear in court that day.
Messages left for his attorneys, Michael Fee, Charles Rankin and James Sultan, were not immediately returned.
If convicted of witness intimidation, Hernandez could face up to a 10-year prison sentence.
Wark said that although Bradley was shot outside Massachusetts, a state law allows the prosecution of someone who willfully injures a witness with the intent to impede an in-state investigation.
Bradley and Hernandez had deep ties going back to their hometown of Bristol, Conn.
When Hernandez and his fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, became the parents of a daughter in November 2012, they made Bradley the child’s godfather.
And on Jan. 28, 2013, when Bradley was stopped on suspicion of drunken driving on a Massachusetts highway, Hernandez was sitting in the front passenger seat.
“Trooper, I’m Aaron Hernandez, it’s OK,” the then-Patriot yelled to an officer during the incident, according to police reports.
A little more than two weeks later, Bradley was shot in Florida. Two workers at a John Deere store heard a gunshot and went outside, where they found Bradley wounded and on the ground.
After a sheriff’s officer asked Bradley who shot him, he replied, “I don’t know.”
Bradley dodged efforts to get him to testify against Hernandez before grand juries investigating the two Massachusetts shootings, but he eventually was arrested and forced to answer questions.
Ultimately, Bradley testified against Hernandez in open court during the former star’s trial for Lloyd’s murder. It was a strange day in court – Bradley was not allowed to make any statements about the Florida shooting. The closest he came to doing so was in acknowledging that he and Hernandez had experienced a falling out.
“Up until February (2013), I considered him a good friend,” Bradley said. “One of my best friends.”