Ex-Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez acquitted in double-murder case

BOSTON (AP) — Ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez has been acquitted in a Boston double slaying that prosecutors said was fueled by his anger over a spilled drink at a nightclub.

The former tight end for the New England Patriots was acquitted of all but one charge Friday over the 2012 killings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.

Prosecutors said Hernandez opened fire on the men’s car because he felt disrespected when one of them bumped into him and spilled his drink. Hernandez had denied killing them men.

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.

Jurors deliberated first-degree murder charges against Hernandez for more than 40 hours over six days. The defense team pointed the finger at Alexander Bradley, a close friend of Hernandez who was with him the night of the shootings.

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’s car as they waited at a stoplight.

Bradley also said Hernandez shot him in the face months later after he made a remark about the earlier shootings. Bradley lost his right eye in the shooting. Hernandez was also charged with witness intimidation in connection with Bradley’s shooting.

Hernandez’s lawyers said it was Bradley — an admitted drug dealer — who shot the men over a drug deal. The defense hammered at Bradley’s credibility, citing his immunity deal with prosecutors to testify against Hernandez, his role as the driver of the car the night of the shootings and his criminal record. Bradley is serving a five-year prison term in Connecticut for firing shots at a Hartford nightclub in 2014.

Hernandez grew up in Bristol, Connecticut, and played for the Patriots from 2010 to 2012. About six weeks after Furtado and de Abreu were killed, Hernandez signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the Patriots and went on to play another season before Lloyd was killed. He was cut from the team shortly after he was arrested in Lloyd’s killed in June 2013. He was not charged in the 2012 killings until 2014.

In his first trial, jurors deliberated for 36 hours over seven days before convicting him of murder.