Hank Brennan, Former Prosecutor and Defense Attorney, Provides Commentary on the Aaron Hernandez Trial

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

The murder trial of Aaron Hernandez, former tight end for the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, is entering Day 13 as the defense continues its attempts to discredit the prosecution’s case witness by witness.

Speculation continues to swirl around the possibility the former 2010 Round Four NFL Draft pick facing three murder charges, including that of semi-pro player, Odin Lloyd, will take the stand in his own defense.

Speaking with Hank Brennan, former District Attorney in Suffolk and Essex Counties who is well acquainted with the courtroom, highly skilled in trial advocacy, and most recently defended notorious mobster Whitey Bulger conducting the majority of cross examination.

Brennan addressed the pitfalls associated with high profile clients or, in reality, anyone taking the stand, and how juries tend to interpret the apparent “truth seeking” action.

Janet Walker: Speaking directly do you think Mr. Hernandez should take the stand in his defense?

Hank Brennan: Generally, I prefer that my client refrain from testifying.  The government has to prove each element of the indictment beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not incumbent upon a defendant to prove his or her innocence. Ironically, innocence has nothing to do with it.

A funny thing happens when an accused takes the stand. The burden of proof seems to dissipate and jurors often engage in an analysis of which side they believe more.

An accused testifying impliedly creates the transformation of the burden of proof to an assessment of whether or not the accused is innocent. The protection provided by the burden of proof and the reasonable doubt standard is awfully important an asset to trade for the opportunity to have a client testify.  

JW: Can you explain?    

HB: There are generally three factors that come into play.  

First, how the case has developed in front of the jury?  The facts presented to a jury appear differently than they appear in police reports and witnesses statements. That is because credibility of witnesses is the biggest variable in any case thus the extraordinary significance of cross-examination.

Secondly, asking what facts remain that are detrimental to the defense after the prosecution has rested its case and deciding whether the attorney and client believe a conviction is imminent without an adequate explanation. If the negative factors can be dealt with then the risks in testifying often outweigh the potential benefits.  

Thirdly, how credible will the accused present?  Are there facts that can be convincingly explained, is the accused convincing, what evidence will be admissible if the accused testifies that otherwise would not be presented to a jury? 

JW: What if a client insists fearing the truth will not be presented otherwise?

HB: I have had many cases where clients demanded to testify simply because they wanted to. I have had other clients who prepared and planned on testifying but by the time the prosecution rested there was no need for their testimony and they refrained.

It is a case by case assessment that requires critical analysis of the evidence actually presented at trial.

Hernandez's defense lawyers will be in the best position to determine whether his testimony would benefit or hurt the case.

Observers and commentators may have their own opinions based on the indictments, their subjective hope that Hernandez testifies to add to the excitement of the event, and their observations about the presentation of evidence, however, they will never have the necessary insight relative to the third factor, In consequence, opinions outside of the defense teams assessment will necessarily be missing an essential part of the equation and is simply guess-work.  

Hernandez Background

The facts surrounding the trial include big seductions which bring shady friends, questionable backgrounds, drugs, guns, fast cars all in the attempt to surf the life or cause the demise.

Hernandez had a bright and promising career with the Pat’s.  Limited injuries and what appears to be a personal challenge with fellow fourth round draft pick placekicker Stephen Gronkowski who migrated to tight end.

On June 26, 2013, Aaron Hernandez was arrested for first degree murder of Odin Lloyd, a friend, and five unrelated gun charges. He was also named in a lawsuit stemming from a Miami shooting incident.

He was released from the New England Patriots the same day. He has remained held without bail since.

On August 2013, Hernandez was formally indicted by a grand jury for the murder of Odin Lloyd. The following May 2014, he was again indicted for the 2012 double homicide of Daniel de Abrwu and Safire Furtado.

Explosive bits of information including PCP drug use by the former Pro-player, multiple weapons, immediate “housecleaning” after the murder, texts messages, conflicts of interest, all raising additional motions of admissibility.

If the jury finds the former NFL Top 100 Pro Bowler guilty, he could face life in prison. 

 

Haute Tease

  • Road To The White House - 2012 Week Two

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Granite State proved to be rock solid for GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney as he handily defeated all comers in last week’s New Hampshire primary.

     
  • di Rosa Center For Contemporary Art Reschedules Major Exhibition In Wake Of Wildfires; Opens For Select Programs November

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Due to fire and smoke damage from the recent Northern California wildfires, di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, 5200 Sonoma Hwy, Napa, has rescheduled the opening of its next exhibition, Be Not Still: Living in Uncertain Times, for January 27, 2018.

     
  • HL Arts: Helen Ibrahim, Installation Artist, and the Spiritual Journey Inspiring Her Work

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Inspired by her time spent with the Aboriginal and Hopi tribes, Helen Andronis Ibrahim uses aspects of the earth, like bark, branches and twigs, in her work in a lyrical manner, representing the planet and the souls of its people.

     
  • The Phoenician Scottsdale Review - A Phenomenal Family Vacation Destination

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    "Family-friendly" and "luxury resort" are often mutually exclusive, however, one Scottsdale luxury resort, The Phoenician, has managed to marry the two in spectacular form and remains a place families can stay, enjoy, play and parlay into memories that'll last a lifetime.

     
  • Interview and Review: Director Matthew Lillard Talks on His Triumph FAT KID RULES THE WORLD

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    FAT KID RULES THE WORLD, directed by Matthew Lillard, tackles the difficult subjects of obesity, teen suicide and punk rock in this critically acclaimed, ten years in the making, film.

     
  • Money News: US Markets Continue Steady; London Markets Strong in Wake Of Scot Vote

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The four U.S. Markets, Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ, S&P 500 and Russell 2000, fluctuated throughout the week, mildly frustrating investors and analyst, and ending the week with the DOW up and the other three closing slightly down.

     
  • Angela Lansbury and Lawrence Kasdan To Receive Honorary Degrees From The American Film Institute Conservatory

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The American Film Institute (AFI) announced it will confer Doctorate of Fine Arts degrees honoris causa upon actress Angela Lansbury and writer, director and producer Lawrence Kasdan. The honors will be given during the AFI Conservatory's commencement ceremony on June 10, 2015 at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre.