The jury has now had the Aaron Hernandez murder case for more than a week, with no end in sight to their deliberations.
In theory, a decision can come at any time. The longer the deliberations go, the greater the chance that, on any given morning, a verdict will arrive fairly quickly, since it’s not uncommon for jurors to reach a tentative decision late in a given day, sleep on it, and finalize things the next morning.
The jurors started last Tuesday, and they have devoted well over 30 hours to the process. Most importantly, they have yet to send a note to Judge E. Susan Garsh asking “what if we can’t reach a unanimous verdict?” or any other message suggesting a deadlock.
A quick verdict in a case of this magnitude is usually bad for the prosecution. As the deliberations linger, it becomes harder to predict what ultimately will happen. With 439 exhibits and 135 witnesses, there’s a lot of material to process.
Ultimately, however, there aren’t many key facts on which the case can turn. One of Hernandez’s lawyers admitted during closing arguments that the former Patriots tight end was present when Odin Lloyd was shot and killed. The question is whether the prosecution has established beyond a preponderance of the evidence that Hernandez was involved.
The length of the deliberations obviously points to a difference of opinion in the jury room. Which means that those who believe Hernandez is guilty are trying to persuade those who believe he is innocent. Notwithstanding the constantly-repeated admonition from Judge Garsh to do no outside research on the case, surely at least some of the jurors while in the privacy of their own homes have opted to poke around the Internet for more information about the case and about Hernandez, given the consequences of the decision they’ll be making.
Eventually, they’ll make a decision — even if the decision is that they can’t make a decision. And even if Hernandez is acquitted on all charges, he won’t be strolling out of the courthouse. He’ll remain in custody for another trial involving charges of double murder from 11 months before the killing of Odin Lloyd.