Aaron Hernandez May Highlight Pot Use As Parth Of ‘Diminished Capacity’ Defense
Disgraced and jailed former NFL star Aaron Hernandez could be contemplating turning to a marijuana defense in hopes of beating double-murder charges.
The Boston Herald reports the former New England Patriots tight end plans to possibly call two experts to the stand during his trial that starts next week to talk about his regular use of the drug while in the NFL and the effects it could have on someone’s “medical and psychological” profile.
“Sometimes these experts get on the stand and say that based on their testing and review of the evidence that they don’t believe the defendant had the mental ability to form an intent to kill,” said longtime criminal defense attorney Robert Sheketoff who is not involved in the case.
“It’s not a full defense, but it negates something the commonwealth has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The 26-year-old Hernandez is already serving life without the possibility of parole for the 2013 execution-style killing of onetime associate Odin Lloyd. During that trial, his rampant use of the drug emerged as a key factor. On the night of the killing, prosecutors noted Hernandez ran up a $243 bar tab and smoked marijuana throughout the evening.
Sources also claimed Lloyd was known as the “blunt master” and was the source of the drug Hernandez often smoked as much of as an ounce per day. He and Hernandez were also considered “smoke buddies.”
While some media outlets have reported Hernandez is now sporting gun tattoos of the alleged murder weapon in connection with the drive-by, double slaying, he has yet to plead guilty to any of the charges.
Hernandez’s new defense team now includes famed Casey Anthony attorney Jose Baez, who gained notoriety for his defense of her on charges she murdered her young daughter. Baez is expected to use the pot theory to argue Hernandez had diminished capacity at the time he is accused of gunning down Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu after one of them allegedly spilled a drink on him on the night in question and neglected to apologize.
In retaliation, Hernandez is accused of opening fire on both of them as sat at a stoplight outside a downtown Boston club in 2012.
“At that point, if you are using this tactic, you are probably trying to get it down to second-degree murder or manslaughter,” Phil Tracy, a criminal defense attorney also not involved in the case, told The Herald.
“You would try to say that repeated and prolonged use of marijuana had an effect on his brain so he couldn’t form clear intent to commit first-degree murder.”
Baez and company are also expected to hammer home the fact prosecutors lack forensic evidence in the case and a key eyewitness could be considered unreliable based on his checkered past.
Meanwhile, Bill Belechick, Hernandez’s former coach with the Patriots, has emerged as someone who could be called to testify as a defense witness. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and former Florida teammate and current Steelers lineman Maurkice Pouncey are also on a list of possible witnesses.
Belichick coached Hernandez for three years and signed him to a five-year, $40 million extension — one of the biggest contracts in Patriots history — as one of quarterback Tom Brady’s favorite targets. After news of the Lloyd charges became public fodder, the team voided the remainder of the deal and severed all ties with him.
A Denver recently tried the same pot intoxication defense Hernandez is rumored to be considering on charges of killing his wife before ultimately withdrawing his plea and pleading guilty.
[Featured Image by Jared Wickersham/Getty Images]