Aaron Hernandez’s death was ruled a suicide last week. (Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe)
When following the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial, it was impossible to not consider the life sentence the disgraced ex-NFL star was already serving for the 2013 shooting of Odin Lloyd. But multiple members of the jury were unaware of his violent past.
In an interview with the Boston Globe, jury forewoman Lindsey Stringer said she only learned about the Lloyd conviction in an informal post-trial conversation with Suffolk Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Locke. A technology director in her mid-30s who relocated to Boston four years ago, she was “vaguely aware” of Hernandez, but couldn’t place him. Jurors are prohibited from reading media coverage about their case or talking about their work.
“Jurors are basically living two different lives,” Stringer told the Globe. “There’s your life at the courthouse, where you’re under intense scrutiny from everyone all the time while you’re there, and then you go home to your regular life and you can’t talk about anything. ‘How was your day?’ ‘Umm . . . fine.’ ”
When the trial ended, Stringer found out several of her peers didn’t know about Hernandez’s first-degree murder conviction, either. It’s likely Hernandez’s attorneys didn’t want those with strong feelings against their client to serve on the jury, which would explain why many jurors were ignorant of his criminal record. The selection process to sit on the jury consisted of a 52-question survey, which asked respondents what they thought of people with tattoos or folks who frequent night clubs.
The prosecution’s case largely rested on Alexander Bradley, a flawed witness who’s serving a prison sentence for shooting up a club in Hartford. Bradley claims Hernandez shot him in the eye during an altercation in February 2013 –– seven months after Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado were murdered in Boston.
Stringer, who stresses the jury didn’t declare Hernandez was “innocent,” said it was difficult to believe Bradley’s version of events. The prosecution offered him immunity to testify against Hernandez, and there were several inconsistencies in his story.
“Then and now, it’s very difficult to sort through what the actual truth is of the matter,” she said. “I’m a person who might be really naive, but I really wanted to believe that every person coming through that courtroom as a witness was telling the truth. … And I don’t think that was the case for several witnesses. But I’ll never know.”
The defense repeatedly attacked Bradley’s character, saying he was the one who pulled the trigger in the drive-by shooting. The case appeared to resonate with members of the jury, who couldn’t agree on Hernandez’s level of involvement.
After the trial concluded, Stringer started to sift through the press coverage she was ordered to avoid. She hoped Hernandez would become a steady presence in his four-year-old daughter’s life, even if he remained behind bars. But those wishes were halted last week when she read about Hernandez’s suicide at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley.
“It’s just very sad and tragic, and I really just pray for the Furtado and de Abreu families and for Aaron’s daughter,” she said.