A wedding could shield Hernandez’s fiancée from testifying

Reuters

The lengthy summary of evidence from prosecutor Bill McCauley on Thursday included an allegation that Aaron Hernandez’s fiancée initially was cooperating with police.  But then, per McCauley, Hernandez called and told her to stop talking to the police.  She complied.

This raises an important question as the case unfolds.  If Hernandez and his fiancée get married before trial, will she be able to refuse to testify against her husband?

Under Massachusetts law, the answer is yes.  “A spouse shall not be compelled to testify in the trial of an indictment, complaint, or other criminal proceeding brought against the other spouse,” the law states regarding the concept of the spousal privilege.

Massachusetts law also recognizes the concept of spousal disqualification, which prevents a spouse from testifying about communications occurring during the marriage — even if the spouse wants to.

And so, if Hernandez and his fiancée get married, she can refuse under Massachusetts law to testify.

There’s also a chance, albeit slim, that Hernandez and his fiancée can claim to have a common-law marriage.  Application of the spousal privilege would be far cleaner, however, if Hernandez and his fiancée get married.

118 responses to “A wedding could shield Hernandez’s fiancée from testifying

  1. Seriously?? Where does this stuff come from? This woman isnt going to marry him to cover up a murder. I understand that sensationalism sells but this a bit of a stretch.

  2. She’d have to be a real stellar lady to want to get married to this joker before his trial is over.

    You’d think she’d want to know if the guy was guilty of murder or not before she actually got married to the guy, wouldn’t you? After all, if they ever got into an argument, who’s to say she wouldn’t be the next victim?

  3. This POS is going away for a long time. Does Mass have the death penalty? Probably not, seeing as it’s a lib area but if they do then I hope he gets it (yes, I can assume guilt, I’m not a judge or jury member).

  4. Ridiculous. This guy is facing murder 1 charges and his fiancee (not wife) was already cooperating. I understand the law and agree with its likely intent but they are not yet married. It seems that getting married to avoid being a court witness should not be condoned. (I get that he has a ton of money and there are a ton of gold diggers that would gladly marry him and spend his money while he is in jail) Massachusetts is one of the states that recognize same-sex marriage. By the interpretation of the law explained in the article any two guys that get busted for a crime could simply get married and avoid testifying against each other

  5. You do not see caucasian players getting charged with serious crimes nearly as frequebtly as minorities.

  6. I think Adriana tried to use this logic in order to get Christopher to put a ring on her finger quicker.

  7. Most players want big rings for their fingers. Hernandez trumped them all by getting two matching bracelets with a chain connecting the two.

  8. They have to be married at the time of the communication not the time of testifying. Common law is there only chance. Spousal priviledge is communication during a marriage, not communication with someone you ended up marrying.

  9. Ought to be an interesting wedding if the Bride’s sister is a bridesmaid, seeing as how Hernandez killed her boyfriend.

  10. I find it somewhat disturbing that a person can commit a crime, confess this to their spouse, and the law says the spouse is not able to testify against the person.

  11. so lets see if ive got this straight she marries him and gets conjugal visits to a man who spent all his money on lawyers that cant save him??? OR she goes out and hooks up with another nfl or nba player gets all the sex and money she needs…. give me a minute im thinking

  12. It would make a lot of sense for him to have a woman as stupid as he is. I bet she is no angel either.

  13. He may want to become a polygamist and marry the 2 guys that were in the car w/ him at the time of the murder as well.

  14. If I’m her, I’m shielding myself from him………now, the only thing is, what if she was invloved? maybe she helped with the plan or something.

  15. Even if they were not married, he could try for common law wife thing. Not a lawyer and don’t know the state laws in Mass.

  16. Couldn’t they put pressure on her with the threat of some other charges? Seems like if she knows something and is withholding evidence then she is complicit in the crime. Not asking her to testify in court but if she’s aiding and abetting a criminal it seems like some pressure could be applied.

    Then again, I’m no legal expert so who knows?

  17. There’s two privileges, and they’re different. One can be invoked by the spouse being ordered to testify; she can refuse to testify. This privilege is applicable only if they’re married at the time of TESTIMONY. The other is a communication privilege; it’s protects spousal communication made DURING marriage. This one is controlled by person the statements are offered against (testifying wife cannot waive). I think that’s why AH’s attorney described their living arrangement as a domestic partnership and emphasized that she is her fiancé and that they have a kid together. They are clearly going to try to keep out her statements.

  18. The bad news is that the fiancé wants nothing to do with him.

    The good news is that a Kardashian is on a flight was we speak requesting immediate conjugal visitation rights.

  19. This guy was so obvious about this crime, I really don’t think they need her testimony. Slam dunk case for the D.A.

  20. The State considers not disrupting a marriage more important than being able to force a spouse to testify apparently. Some value to that consideration, even though in this situation it might lead to a warped result.

    Similar to the reason our criminal laws are designed to make it hard to convict someone of a crime – the State deems it better many guilty men go free than ONE innocent person be convicted – and if you consider that guy in TX who was imprisoned for the death of his wife when his son was free and has now been released based on DNA evidence and failures to disclose by the DA – you might understand that too.

    The law cant be made perfect to fit all circumstances, but is designed to cover most. AND in our free society, it is often designed to protect individuals and their freedoms, even given results most would agree seem crazy.

  21. Exchange vows in front of the glass on the phones.

    Aaron can carve the ring out of sink parts and bed springs and then poof!!!!!

  22. Not sure i agree with the logic of this article.

    That girl is at a lawyers office right now trying to find out where her child support money falls in relation to the patriots, his legal defense, and the victims family……

  23. Can someone please tell me what criminal activity these guys were into? Seriously… There has to be more to this story… I mean you are going to take a man’s life for talking to people? About what?

  24. Innocent until proven guilty, sure, but according to most sources reporting what happenned, there is no way he wasn’t the shooter or at least at the crime scene which makes him an accessory to the crime. This guys got guilty written all over him.

  25. There is a segment coming up on Sports Center entitled “Hernandez’s troubled life”

    I had a troubled life also but I don’t go around shooting people execution style.

    What a trip.

  26. How’s this not an ideal opportunity for the woman? Marry him, no wifley duties, clean out the accounts and be on your way. Honey, I found you a much more economical lawyer, his name is Flow ReeOh and he gets plenty of great legal advice from his friend Kom Mentors. You’ll be out in no time.

  27. I feel badly for the people close to him who love Hernandez… his fiancée, his daughter, his family and all the youngsters who looked up to him.
    No matter how this plays out, he has failed them miserably.

  28. So even now that we know the story and the sordid facts PFT must go out of its way to find out of the blue something new to speculate on so haters can be fed? Give it a rest please.

  29. Massachusetts is also a community property state. She marries him, divorces him and her and baby Hernandez get all (at least half) of the Patriots money being paid both current and future .

  30. Got to remember, she already had a kid (daughter) with Hernandez so her only hope is to cooperate with the authorities and then stand in line with the victim’s family when it comes time to liquidate the assets.

    She hooked up with a gang-banger and there are consequences for that.

  31. She see’s his true colors and would still marry him? Put them both in jail then. Just read the article over at the mothership and wow this guy is screwed. Do they have “the chair” in Mass?

  32. She can just plead the 5th and not say a word. That’s not a Mass law, that’s Federal, in case those of you who live in the perfect neighborhood in the perfect state forgot about that.

  33. Please.. by the time his lawyers get done with Pats signing bonus, there will be nothing left for her to take half of. Where would be the benefit for her to protect a murderer?

  34. This is another unitended consequence of the Supreme Court’s ruling and the growing number of state’s allowing same sex marriage. Criminal co-defendants having jailhouse weddings to invoke the spousal privilege and avoid having to testify against each other. The forefathers must be rolling over in ther graves at what this country has turned into during the last 235 years.

  35. If she married him now in order to not testify then she should be jailed for stupidity…

  36. If Hernandez wants her to marry him (in order to keep her quiet), then she should refuse all requests to enter into an pre-nuptual agreement. Why?

    Because after Hernandez gets convicted, the conviction itself will be grounds for divorce and she will get half of his remaining wealth when the divorce is finalized.

  37. Im pretty sure that living with somebody for a few years doesn’t automatically qualify as “common law marriage”… Not a lawyer but from what I have read, both parties must be of sound mind and in agreement of the status of the relationship. In other words, he can not assume they are common law married when she is under the assumption that they will be legally married. considering she is referred to as his fiancé, I believe that there was an intention to get married,.

    Its also a load of crap that two people get slammed through the ringer when they get married to avoid taxes etc… but these two could possibly get married to avoid testifying?

  38. If this guy killed someone he knew and considered a friend execution style, then this can’t be his first murder. There have got to be cold cases that this guy is responsible for because I don’t think you start out as a murderer executing a known associate around the corner from your house. This guy has killed before.

  39. If they get married where would it take place?Then theres the honeymoon. And when you meet someone today you just have to over look some things. Talk about a guy with baggage.

  40. “Massachusetts law also recognizes the concept of spousal disqualification, which prevents a spouse from testifying about communications occurring during the marriage —”

    Hey Mike… doesn’t that statement disqualify her from the law, seeing as she was a fiance during the incident in which Hernandez is being charged?

  41. If she already gave a written and/or recorded statement its not gonna matter. If she testifies and lies Hernandez is screwed or if they use her statements as evidence he’s screwed.

  42. Question: Whenever one of these knuckleheads from the NFL gets arrested for a violent crime people come out of the woodwork to blame “The NFL” and Roger Goodell for losing control of the league. How come no one ever mentions the NFLPA? Why is it that since D. Smith took over, and the crime rate in the NFL has gone up, does no one ask what the hell the PA is doing to keep their membership out of trouble? It’s always fun to point the finger at the big bad NFL, but to me this is the kind of thing that the PA should be on top of, but they’re not!

  43. You know that kid in class or office who always needed to prove how smart he was to the teacher/boss? Here he is again, coming up with ideas for the defense of murder.

  44. This girl is in a perfect position. Marry the guy with a prenup that states she gets everything if he is ever convicted of a felony. If he wins his case, they live happily ever after as they were engaged anyway. If she testifies and lies on his behalf and he loses, she gets everything. Win/Win for her…..

  45. So getting a license from the government for your relationship is a legit way to prohibit testimony but someone like me who would rather not register my relationship with the govt is not immune. What a joke.

  46. Any chance she would marry him so she would get all his dough when he’s put in jail?

  47. If he’s not married before he gets to prison, he’ll be married as soon as he gets in.

  48. It actually might seem more beneficial to NOT marry him just so she does not have to be connected to him or have to explain the story for the rest of her life…and she should care as much about testifying as Hernandez cared about their future together when he pulled the trigger.

  49. I was a Prosecutor for 25 years. That’s the law in every State and in the Fed system.

  50. Give the girl a chance. It would take a truly dumb waste of space for someone to know something and not say anything to the police. Somebody lost his life here. This is truly terrible for everybody concerned inc the fans of the Patriots having their team dragged through sh** . Everybody who loves the game this is a bad time. Even if Hernandez didnt murder this guy it looks like he was involved big time. Just what the hell was he doing mixing with these low lifes, he had the world at his feet.

  51. People think that Massachusetts is a liberal state but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, the place is loaded with colleges and liberal minded do-gooder’s, and yes they pretty much vote the one party line (Democrat) and implement lots of liberal and destructive policies, but this myopic political view has taken a toll over time. It’s essentially a one party state where the one party regularly creates or changes laws when it is convenient. It is actually quite a draconian place to be embroiled in legal troubles, especially if you are a man. The courts are loaded with feminists and their supporters. All men are evil and potential killer’s and rapists in the eyes of the court. Don’t believe me? Wait until your spouse decides she can upgrade. You’ll be shocked at what’s been allowed to happen with the court system when you weren’t looking. You’ll feel like you shot someone in an industrial complex execution style as everything is taken from you, and you are used like an ATM to fund the social work McJobs the government hands out as welfare for “single Mom’s” while they ride the C Carousel. You have no rights. It’s all a gift from the state and can be taken away any time they see fit. In the case of AH, he’s fried unless they find something concrete that puts him away from the scene.

    It won’t surprise me if this law is struck down before the trial, because it is inconvenient.

  52. Why would she want to marry this creep now?? She’s got to have better things to do with her life than marry him now. He was going to turn his life around a year ago when he got a ridiculous contract from the Patriots. See how well that worked out???
    What a looser.
    What’s happened to the other 2 people in the car, have they just disappeared??? Very strange.

  53. “Massachusetts law also recognizes the concept of spousal disqualification, which prevents a spouse from testifying about communications occurring during the marriage”

    Since any communications regarding the murder didn’t happen while the two were married, how does this help Hernandez?

  54. Ok… I have questions

    1. If he is held without bond, how does he get married?

    2. Are his assets frozen including joint bank accounts?

    Hopefully, they can’t get married. Even if they can, she would be better off cleaning out any joint property now. Between the attorneys and the inevitable (and seemingly justified) civil suit that is coming, who knows what will be left.

  55. Ha I recall an episode of The Sopranos “you watch too much tv” where Adriana thinks she won’t have to testify if “Christafa” gets arrested…turned out she was wrong….at least in NJ

  56. I really doubt that they are basing their case for something so high profile on the testimony of his fiance. If everybody was watching what I was doing, I would make damn sure I had something stronger then that, as a girlfriend’s cooperation seems like it has a significant chanceof falling through for a myriad of reasons.

  57. Two problems: (1) spousal privilege doesn’t prevent the Commonwealth from subpoenaing her to testify before the grand jury; and (2) any statements she’s already given to the police can be admitted at trial (under the “forfeiture by wrongdoing” doctrine), even though they are technically hearsay.

  58. Oh please, we are well on our way in killing marriage. It is worthless. The fact that her marrying this guy to save his guilty hide speaks volume for the institution. If she is innocent, she should look after herself and their daughter and try to salvage as much of that 12 million dollars as possible before the lawyers and that little lawsuit in FLA get a hold of that money.

  59. the bristol CT latino gang banger drug dealer returned too close to home with a serious bank account. recipe for disaster. in a way, pats made huge mistake by either not doing due diligence or concluding his returning close to home was manageable.

  60. If she had a brain she’d tell him to take a flying leap and send his sorry butt to prison for the rest of his life.

  61. America: the country where you can marry a guy to help him get out of a murder charge….. But two guys that actually live each other can’t get married.

  62. His girl friend testifying against him are the least of his problems. The police were getting information from someone in order to formulate the requisite probable cause to get the several search warrants. That “somebody” is, in my opinion, one of his buddies who happen to witness the shooting. More shall be revealed!

  63. I don’t know Massachusetts law well enough to know if the privilege applies if the evidence to be testified about occurred before the marriage. That could be an interesting legal question and depend how on exactly the legislature worded the law.

    But for the couple people who seem to be against spousal privilege at all… are you against Doctor/Patient privilege? Attorney/Client privilege? Those are relationships way less sacrosanct than marriage, and we protect them.

    We have very few privileges against testimony in our country, and what we do have are generally narrowly construed (full discloser, I’m an attorney who works in health law. Doctor/Patient isn’t as broad as you think.) Of them, surely we can agree that asking someone to testify against their spouse is a problem?

  64. Considering the gang implications, she may be scared of being killed if she testifies against him. You can bet his posse is letting it be known through the streets that you DON’T testify against our boy.

    She’s in a tough situation.

  65. Tebow to the rescue….I knew they signed him for something. He will officiate at the ceremony and marry the happy couple. Doing it the Patriot way.

  66. If I was her I woulda made a nice sizeable WITHDRAWAL today..soon as they cuffd his ass up! And went on a lil shoppin spree. But Foreal she better not get hitched to that wagon..it’ll make her look like she hiding somethin

  67. How in the world to have a jury that can judge this case that has not been biased by all this negative publicity that Hernandez has generated (or is that the defense’s trump card)?

  68. edzo82270 says: Jun 26, 2013 7:00 PM

    She can just plead the 5th and not say a word. That’s not a Mass law, that’s Federal, in case those of you who live in the perfect neighborhood in the perfect state forgot about that.

    minimiggy says: Jun 26, 2013 7:25 PM

    Or she could just use her right to remain silent. That could work too.

    ___________________________

    You two are a little mixed up here.

    You can ONLY plead the 5th if your testimony may incriminate you. Seeing as she has already spoken to the police it is highly unlikely this is the case. No incrimination – no pleading the 5th.

    The “right to remain silent” is part of the Miranda Rights; which are applicable to someone being arrested and charged with a crime. They don’t extend to witnesses.

  69. Just don’t permit him to get married until the trial is over and he’s penniless. Then she will probably have no use for him.

  70. ‘Massachusetts law also recognizes the concept of spousal disqualification, which prevents a spouse from testifying about communications occurring during the marriage — even if the spouse wants to.’

    I don’t know who’s supplying your legal advice, probably the same ‘unnamed law enforcement source’ who gave you daily warrant updates, but a spouse CAN testify against a partner in Massachusetts. The only time they aren’t ‘allowed’ or it’s disqualified is by a Judge in an adversarial trial where their testimony is considered biased with no value.

  71. I think you have to be married at the time of the crime to pull this stunt … not afterwards. It’s not a legal time machine.

  72. gbmickey says: Jun 26, 2013 5:45 PM

    Seriously?? Where does this stuff come from? This woman isnt going to marry him to cover up a murder. I understand that sensationalism sells but this a bit of a stretch.
    ************************************************

    ??? What?
    As IF she doesn’t know what kind of guy he is. You think this gal doesn’t know what kind of a tough-guy, gang-banger, hot headed, macho dude he is? That’s probably WHY she is hanging out with him and had a baby with him. Don’t be naive. She isn’t surprised or shocked by his behavior one bit. And if she is, she’s in serious denial.

    And she’s living in a Mansion and the dude got a 12 Million dollar signing bonus last year.

    I think you’re CRAZY if you think she is NOT gonna marry him.

  73. Something fitting about a picture of handcuffs when a wedding is the subject.

  74. She has zero reason to marry him. She will receive child support regardless of whether they are married or not. Outside of the child support, the victims family, the defense lawyer and the state will be splitting up anything that remains of the Aaron Hernandez estate.

    This guy just blew through 40 million dollars faster than any athlete in history. What does he win, Johnny?

    A lovely 10 x 10 private cell and 3 square meals for the rest of his life.

  75. re:Public Defender. The test to qualify for a public defender is not whether h is or is not employed. The court will look at his assets to see if he can afford to hire a lawyer. He received a $9.5 million signing bonus last year.

  76. baconispigcandy says:
    Jun 26, 2013 5:41 PM
    Just one more reason to hate that backwards state.

    What part of it? Common law marriage, which isn’t actually recognized in Massachusetts, but is in place like my homestate (Texas)? Or spousal privilege, which is pretty common across the United States judicial system, both criminal and civil? Either way, that makes no sense (but, it’s a kneejerk insult, and people LOVE those!)

  77. minimiggy says:
    Jun 26, 2013 7:25 PM
    Or she could just use her right to remain silent. That could work too.

    No, the right to remain silent is only for the accused. Routed in the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution, the relevant portion of the text reads “nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself”.

    In this case, should she not have some sort of privilege like the spousal privilege, she may indeed be compelled to testify by subpoena and oath, and should she refuse or lie on the stand, can be held in contempt and punished accordingly.

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