Lawyers have extensive discretion when making statements during closing arguments, limited only by the willingness of the opposing lawyer to interrupt with an objection and the presiding judge to sustain it. As a result, many outlandish claims routinely are made in the name of securing a victory — claims that defy logic and, most importantly, conflict with the evidence introduced during the trial.
On Tuesday, the lawyer presenting the closing argument on behalf of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez made a claim that defies both logic and the evidence.
“He was a 23-year-old kid who witnessed something, a shocking killing, committed by someone he knew,” James Sultan told the jury, via ESPN.com. “He didn’t know what to do, so he just put one foot in front of the other.”
While it became fairly obvious as a result of the testimony offered Monday regarding the potential effects of PCP use that Hernandez’s lawyers want jurors to think Carlos Ortiz or Ernest Wallace shot and killed Odin Lloyd, the trial included no evidence that Hernandez witnessed the killing of Odin Lloyd, primarily because Hernandez didn’t testify.
The notion that Hernandez was “shocked” by the killing of Odin Lloyd (the man Sultan described as during the closing as a close friend and future brother-in-law of Hernandez) also doesn’t mesh with the subsequent events — specifically, Hernandez bringing Lloyd’s killer to Hernandez’s home, where his young daughter was sleeping.
It’s impossible to know how any of us would handle the aftermath of witnessing a murder, but it’s hard to imagine that someone who was shocked by seeing the unexpected murder of a close friend and future family member would bring the killer back to the witness’s home, possibly to watch some TV, play some FIFA, and eat some Fritos.
Sultan’s claim didn’t draw an objection, and it may never be known whether it resonated with the jury. If Hernandez is convicted, it will mean that it didn’t. If he’s acquitted, maybe it worked.