The jury in the double-murder trial of ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez has been dismissed for the day. There is still no verdict after nearly twenty hours of deliberations.
Jurors were sent home late Monday afternoon after asking a Boston judge to clarify the law on a witness intimidation charge against Hernandez. The judge said he would give the jury further explanation before deliberations resumed Tuesday.
Hernandez, a former tight end for the New England Patriots, is charged with killing Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu in a 2012 drive-by shooting in Boston. Prosecutors say Hernandez felt disrespected after one of the men accidentally spilled his drunk at a nightclub. Hernandez's lawyers say Hernandez's former friend, Alexander Bradley, shot the men over a drug deal.
Bradley claims Hernandez shot him in the face, leading to a charge of witness intimidation. Prosecutors argued that Hernandez shot Bradley because he witnessed the double murder. Monday, jurors questioned whether Hernandez could be found guilty if he "indirectly" intimidated Bradley by telling someone else to shoot him.
Defense attorney Ronald Sullivan argued that such a concept would encourage jurors to "speculate" on an alternate theory that Hernandez's team never had an opportunity to cross examine.
"We simply have no evidence of that. It would confuse the jury. It would mislead the jury," Sullivan argued. "It would allow the commonwealth to proceed under a theory for which there is absolutely no evidence."
Prosecutors say they have always argued that there were other people in the car when Bradley was shot, and that it's plausible he instructed someone else to shoot. Even if it wasn't their theory at trial, prosecutors say, the law covers that possibility.
The judge, however, agreed with the defense that only a direct threat should be considered.
On Monday, a lawyer for Hernandez told Judge Jeffrey Locke that his selection of a white woman as the forewoman on the predominantly minority jury has "troubling racial overtones." Locke said he found that claim "astounding."
Hernandez is already serving a life sentence in the 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd.