A jury on Friday acquitted former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez in the 2012 shooting death of two men he met in a Boston nightclub.
They achieved a ruling almost two years to the day after the former NFL star was convicted in another killing.
Jurors deliberated first-degree murder charges against Hernandez for more than 40 hours over six days.
Hernandez was accused of fatally shooting Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in 2012. Prosecutors said the ex-football player, opened fire on their car, because he felt respected as one of the men ran up to him and spilled his drink in a Boston nightclub.
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Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez attends his double murder trial.
The defense team pointed the finger at Alexander Bradley, a close friend of Hernandez who was with him the night of the shooting.
Hernandez, 27, is already serving a life sentence for the 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee.
Bradley claimed Hernandez became enraged after de Abreu bumped into him while dancing, spilling his drink. He said Hernandez later opened fire on the men from the car while they waited at a traffic light.
Bradley also said Hernandez shot him in the face months later, he made a comment about the earlier shootings. Bradley lost his right eye in the shooting. Hernandez was also charged with intimidation of witnesses in connection with Bradley’s shooting.
Hernandez’s lawyers said that the Bradley — an admitted drug dealer who shot the men over a drug deal. The defense hammered at Bradley’s credibility, mentioning his immunity deal with the prosecutors to testify against Hernandez, his role as the driver of the car the night of the shooting and his criminal record. Bradley is serving a five year prison sentence in Connecticut for firing shots at a Hartford night club in 2014.
Hernandez grew up in Bristol, Connecticut, and played for the Patriots from 2010 to 2012. About six weeks after Furtado and Abreu were killed, Hernandez signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the Patriots and went to another season before Lloyd was killed. He was cut from the team shortly after he was arrested in Lloyd’s, was killed in June 2013. He was not charged in the 2012 murders up to and including 2014.
In his first trial, jurors deliberated for 36 hours over a period of seven days before the condemnation of his murder.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.