Former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez has been indicted for a double murder in 2012 that authorities called an ambush and execution after a chance encounter at a Boston nightclub.
District Attorney Daniel Conley, of Suffolk County, Massachusetts, said Hernandez is accused in the homicides of Daniel de Abreu, 29, and Safiro Furtado, 28, during the early morning hours of July 16, 2012 and is expected to be arraigned in the near future, possibly next week.
“For us, this case was never about Aaron Hernandez. It was about two victims who were stalked, ambushed and senselessly murdered on the streets of the city they called home,” Conley said during a news briefing this morning.
Hernandez'a attorneys released a statement on Thursday afternoon.
"It is one thing to make allegations at a press conference, and another thing to prove them in a courtroom," a statement from Charles W. Rankin and James L. Sultan says. "Unlike the District Attorney, we are not going to try this case in the media. Under our system of justice, Aaron Hernandez is innocent of these charges and looks forward to his day in court."
Hernandez, who is awaiting trial on murder charges in a July 2013 shooting death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd near his home in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, was seen on surveillance footage in Club Cure, the same Boston nightclub the victims visited on the night of the July 16, 2012, attack in Boston, authorities have said.
A search warrant released in January said Boston police had been investigating whether Hernandez, a Bristol, Connecticut native and former New England Patriot tight end, might have been the gunman in the double slaying.
Conley said today that this Hernandez and the victims had a chance encounter. There was no indication that Hernandez and the victims knew each other, but coincidentally arrived at the nightclub at the same time, around 12:30 a.m.
“(T)heir chance encounter inside the club triggered a series of events that culminated in these murders,” Conley said.
At 2 a.m., the victims left the club. de Abreu was driving and, unbeknownst to him, Hernandez followed, Conley said.
When de Abreu stopped at a traffic light, Hernandez’s SUV pulled up to the vehicle and fired a .38-caliber revolver, several times, from the driver’s side of the car, according to the district attorney.
The driver was shot several times and died from a gunshot to the chest. Furtado, who was in the front passenger seat, was also shot several times and died from a gunshot to the head. Three other people who were also in the car survived, Conley said. Two ran off without being injured. One person who stayed with the victims was shot in the arm.
On June 19, 2013, when Boston police learned that Hernandez was being investigated for a homicide in North Attleboro, detectives recalled seeing a man "clearly recognized as Aaron Hernandez" in video footage from Club Cure on the morning of the Boston shooting, a search warrant released in January states.
On June 22, North Attleboro police received an anonymous tip from a caller saying he had knowledge that the Lloyd homicide and the double homicide were related, according to the warrant.
When asked about any possible connection between the two cases, Conley referred calls to Bristol County, Massachusetts District Attorney Sam Sutter.
The SUV driven at the time of the Boston murders was found in a relative’s garage in Bristol, Connecticut, according to Conley. When police investigated, a resident of the Lake Street home in Bristol said Hernandez has left the car at the house for a year and no one else drives it.
Hernandez’s cousin, Tanya Singleton, was subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury investigating the murders about the SUV and offered immunity, but refused to testify on Sept. 13, 2013, Conley said. The grand jury returned an indictment, charging her with criminal contempt at conspiracy.