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Downward Spiral: Aaron Hernandez. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired April 21, 2017 - 23:00   ET


[23:00:05] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: That's it for tonight. Thanks for watching. CNN Special Report "Downward Spiral: Aaron Hernandez," starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: The following is a CNN Special Report.


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): An astonishing talent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was projected to be one of the best tight ends of his generation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a very good player.

CANDIOTTI: Turned American tragedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What say you madam foreperson?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guilty of murder in first degree.

CANDIOTTI: Superstardom on the field overshadowed by violence and the victims he left behind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know I heard. Your son was shot and killed.

CANDIOTTI: Now, the latest turn in this twisted story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aaron Hernandez killed himself in prison.

CANDIOTTI: The suicide that ended this downward spiral for Aaron Hernandez.

After dark in Boston's theater district, the marquees light up, the historic theaters fill up and the city's hottest dance clubs open up for business. Daniel de Abreu, an immigrant from the African Island nation of Cape Verde loved the nonstop energy and action of the scene. It's where he comes to party with four friends one night in the summer of 2012. De Abreu never returns home. Dying in a hail of bullets alongside a fellow Cape Verdean, Safiro Furtado.

Families of the men including de Abreu's father Ernesto are devastated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How difficult has this loss been, sir, for you as a father?

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): At 29 years old, Daniel de Abreu sent money home to relatives he left behind in Cape Verde.

ERNESTO DE ABREU, VICTIM'S FATHER: Danny is a good boy. Danny support the family. The mother and the brother, the sister.

CANDIOTTI: He was newly married and worked as a janitor while studying English. His American dream --


CANDIOTTI: State trooper his father Ernesto tells me. Danny's goal was to become a police officer like he was back home.

It's a sadness that overtakes my life, the mother of Danny's friend, Safiro Furtado, tells me. Mother and son had been separated for ten years while she worked in the U.S. to support him and other family members back home. They were reunited when Furtado came to the U.S. just six months before his death.

MARIA TEIXEIRA, MOTHER OF SAFIRO FURTADO (through translator): Seeing him was so emotional for me. I was so happy. I had so much joy.

CANDIOTTI: Furtado's plan was to live with his mom and earn some money in the U.S. before returning to Cape Verde and his job as a tour guide.

TEIXEIRA (through translator): He loved the job he had left behind.

CANDIOTTI: Because he used his language skills.

TEIXEIRA (through translator): Safiro spoke English, Portuguese, Creole and French.

CANDIOTTI: How do you think he had this talent to learn so many different languages?

TEIXEIRA (through translator): He was so intelligent. I thought my son was going to be someone.

CANDIOTTI: On that fateful summer night in 2012, Furtado, de Abreu and three other friends arrive at a nightclub called Cure Lounge just after midnight and park nearby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The victims had traveled to the theater district in a gray 2003 approximately 12:30 a.m. The victims entered the foyer area of the Cure Lounge.

CANDIOTTI: Prosecutors say nothing unusual appears to have happened while the group is inside.

The five men leave Cure nightclub about 2:00 a.m. and pick up their car at a nearby garage. De Abreu was driving, Furtado is in the passenger seat. According to investigators, security cameras show a silver Toyota 4-

runner with Rhode Island plates following the BMW as it pulls away from the parking garage. De Abreu drives three blocks before stopping his car for a red light. Prosecutors say that's when the 4-runner pulls alongside them and opens fire. Rashid Sanchez is in the back seat of de Abreu's car.

[23:05:26] RASHID SANCHEZ, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Everything was quick. He probably say something like what's up, Negro? He started shooting. It's an automatic gun. You know? He started shooting crazy. And I said, Danny, talk to me. You hear me? Are you OK? And then he died on my hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daniel de Abreu suffered fatal gunshot wounds to his chest. Safiro Furtado suffered fatal gunshot wounds to his head.

CANDIOTTI: As for the three men in the backseat, Sanchez and a buddy, are unharmed. The third is shot in the arm. Detectives interview all three survivors, scour security cameras, but never find the shooter. The case grows cold with winter.

Seven months pass. Rivera Beach, Florida. A man named Alexander Bradley is shot in the head and left for dead in an industrial park.

Two men who work in that building hear a gunshot and tell police they rush outside and find the body of a bloody man lying in a fetal position just about here, according to a police report. One of the men asked the victim, who shot you? Bradley won't say. Not after doctors retrieve a bullet fragment from his head, not after he loses his right eye.

Four more months pass. North Attleboro, Massachusetts, another man is killed, another family shattered.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who would kill my baby?

CANDIOTTI: Only then do the pieces start to come together.




[23:10:57] CANDIOTTI (voice-over): June 15th, 2013, a springtime Saturday in Boston, Massachusetts. Just perfect for football. A semi-pro Boston bandits are on the field for their first scrimmage of the season.


CANDIOTTI: Among those suited up, 27-year-old defensive end Odin Lloyd.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Odin would eat, sleep, dream football. CANDIOTTI: As a teen Lloyd dreamed of making it to the NFL. After

high school he played for the Bandits and worked part-time as a gardener. Lloyd's coach says the young man was trying to figure out what he wanted to do next.

MIKE BRANCH, BANDITS' ASSISTANT COACH: At some point, you realize you're not going to the NFL. This is just going to be for fun. What do I got to do to start preparing myself for life?

CANDIOTTI: It would never happen.

Two days later, on Monday, June 17th, 35 miles south of Boston, in a town called North Attleboro, a jogger discovers Lloyd's body behind some warehouses. He has been shot in the torso six times and left face up. There are footprints and .45 caliber shells near his body. Tire tracks, too. It doesn't appear to be a robbery. Lloyd's cell phone is with him, so is his wallet with cash in it. And the driver's license that identifies him to police.

Hours later, they break the news to his mother, Ursula Ward.

URSULA WARD, ODIN LLOYD'S MOTHER: I know I heard. I'm sorry, mom, but your son was shot and killed. My heart stopped. My heart stopped in that second and I fell to the floor.

CANDIOTTI: Lloyd was the oldest of Ward's three children and her only son. He was the center of her heart.

WARD: That was the best gift God ever gave me in my life.

CANDIOTTI: His sister, Olivia, is also in shock as she calls her brother's best friend, Darrell Hodge. Did she say, he is dead?

DARRELL HODGE, ODIN LLOYD'S BEST FRIEND: In between the cries and the bawling, Darrell, Odin's dead. I'll be there in a minute.

WARD: The first thing I ever asked was who killed my son.

HODGE: What do you say to that? I immediately fell to my knees, gave her a hug, wrapped my hand around her head and I was like, I don't know. I says, I don't know.

CANDIOTTI: But there is a solid lead. Inside Lloyd's pocket are keys to a Chevy suburban rented by Aaron Hernandez, the Aaron Hernandez who plays for the New England Patriots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was projected to be one of the best tight ends of his generation.

CANDIOTTI: But why are the keys of an NFL star in Odin Lloyd's pocket? It turns out they know one another. What's your understanding of how they met?

HODGE: They're dating sisters.

CANDIOTTI: How much do you know that they hung out together? HODGE: Rarely. Just two different worlds. Buddy had one world and

we got our world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Checking out my new camera.

CANDIOTTI: But then the Friday before Lloyd is killed, Hernandez invites Lloyd into his world. The two men go clubbing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said he was at the club with Mr. Hernandez and they were partying and they had a good time.

CANDIOTTI: And all weekend long Lloyd is driving the suburban Hernandez has rented, to football practice on Saturday, with his friends on Sunday afternoon.

[23:15:15] HODGE: Laughing, talking, Odin is driving, the one hand type driving. Later we went to my aunt's house, he was playing pool. I seen Odin make one of the most spectacular shots I have ever seen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No chance in hell.

CANDIOTTI: A good day.

HODGE: A great day.

CANDIOTTI: It's ending as Lloyd gets a text from his job saying he had to work the next morning.

HODGE: Then he got another text asking him to hang out.

CANDIOTTI: A text from Hernandez.

HODGE: Let's have another great night.

CANDIOTTI: Hours later, it's already the wee hours of Monday morning, Lloyd is picked up by a gray Altima. His sister Shaquille cease him go. Soon after Lloyd sends her a series of messages asking if she saw who he left with. The last one tells her, NFL, just so you know. Hours later, with police now at her home, she thinks maybe it's a clue.

WARD: She said, Ma, the only NFL person he knows is Aaron Hernandez.

CANDIOTTI: Over the next several days, investigators search Hernandez's cars and his home. They remove bags of possible evidence. Then, on June 26th, 2013, nine days after the murder of Odin Lloyd, Hernandez is arrested. And charged with first degree murder. His plea?


CANDIOTTI: The Patriots release him by the time he reaches the courthouse.

BILL BELLICHICK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS' COACH: I and other members of the organization were shocked and disappointed. CANDIOTTI: On that very same day, police are searching the house of

Hernandez's cousin. They believe the football player may have left behind clothing he wore the night of Lloyd's murder. They don't find clothes, but what they do find could connect Aaron Hernandez with two more murders.



[23:21:29] CANDIOTTI (voice-over): In late June of 2013, on an ordinary street in Bristol, Connecticut, police are investigating the death of Odin Lloyd when they make an extraordinary discovery, a silver Toyota 4-runner with Rhode Island plates. The vehicle belongs to Aaron Hernandez. A leasing company loaned it to him in exchange for promotional work. And it appears to be the one Boston police have been trying to find for nearly a year. The one police say was used in the murder of two American dreamers, immigrants Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was the moment because the car matches up with the car that was captured on surveillance video.

CANDIOTTI: Hernandez has just been formally charged with one murder. Is it possible the NFL star is responsible for three deaths?

When you first heard of the possible connection between this young talented New England Patriot football player and three murders, what did you think?

MICHAEL MCCANN, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: Shock. Right? This is a marketable, recognizable individual who plays for a super bowl champion New England Patriots. He's catching passes from Tom Brady.

CANDIOTTI: Once the initial connection is made, Boston authorities re-examine surveillance video gathered the year before and come to suspect that Hernandez is their killer, that killer they have been searching for.

MCCANN: They found Hernandez in all the key places. They found Hernandez obviously at the club but also at a parking area and in a car that matches up with the car that was used in the shooting.

CANDIOTTI: While the car was gathering cobwebs and two families were grieving, Hernandez was cashing in with the Patriots. He signed a $40 million contract extension five weeks after the deaths of de Abreu and Furtado, on the same day he said this --

HERNANDEZ: You can't come here and act reckless and do your own stuff. And I acted the way I wanted to act. But you get changed by Bill Belichick's way.

MCCANN: At the time people a lot of people thought he was talking about marijuana. That he used a lot of marijuana. That he had gotten older, he had gotten mature. Doesn't seem like he was talking about marijuana. CANDIOTTI: Police are in no rush to charge him with the murders of

Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. The ex-Patriot in in jail already, held without bail, until he can be tried for Odin Lloyd's death.

The idea that Hernandez could have murdered three young men shocks those who remember him growing up in Bristol, Connecticut.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aaron was our golden boy. He had the family traits. His father and his uncle were standout athletes.

CANDIOTTI: His older brother D.J. was a sports hero, too. Bob Montgomery covers high school sports for the Bristol press.

BOB MONTGOMERY, BRISTOL PRESS: Aaron did track in addition to football he also did basketball. He was described in any sport he played as a man playing with children.

CANDIOTTI: Hernandez's athletic ability was partly genetic, partly parental influence.

[23:25:04] MONTGOMERY: His father was pretty strict. I mean, he told me his father used to make him shoot 500 shots before he went sometimes to play with his friends.

CANDIOTTI: That father/son relationship comes up in jail conversations between Sheriff Thomas Hudson and Hernandez after his arrest.

MONTGOMERY: His dad clearly kept him anchored. I saw a closeness with them that I had never seen before. There was something about Dennis and Aaron, the way they intertwined. It was just -- it was magic in my eyes.

CANDIOTTI: Magic that didn't last, ending when Hernandez was just 16 years old. Brad McMillen and Andrew Rigali were on his basketball team.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coach walks in and he says Dennis has passed away.

CANDIOTTI: Dennis Hernandez, Aaron's father, his anchor, died unexpectedly after routine hernia surgery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't stop the tears.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Felt uncomfortable to see him so hurt.

MONTGOMERY: Clearly at 16 years old, losing your father, it would be very easy to fall into the lifestyle of following people that don't help you make the best choices.

CANDIOTTI: One choice he made was to tattoo some of his dad's advice on his arms.

HERNANDEZ: This is a quote my father always used to give me. If it is to be, it is up to me. Basically said whatever I want my life to be, it is up to me to make it out that way.

CANDIOTTI: What he wanted to be was an NFL football star.

So in January of 2007, he cut his high school senior year in half and headed to the University of Florida, joining star quarterback Tim Tebow. By April, still long before the gators' season opener, there's trouble off the field. The rookie teen loses his cool at this popular off campus restaurant.

There's an argument between Aaron Hernandez and the manager over a bill. Tim Tebow tries to calm things down and settle the check, but according to this police report it all ends with Aaron Hernandez sucker punching the manager on the left side of his head bursting an ear drum.

The manager later tells police University of Florida coaches and lawyers have contacted him, and they are working on an agreement. A university spokesman says they are not aware of any settlement.

Was Hernandez on a slippery slope? He was tearing up the field as a gator, but some who knew him were worried, especially when he was unsupervised away from the game. If you could keep him on one side, he would be fine, one source put it. The problem was he couldn't stay away from the other side, adding, it was a recipe for disaster. And it was a recipe that included marijuana, Hernandez was suspended for using the drug. His past becomes an issue when he enters the NFL draft in 2010 during his junior year at Florida.

MCCANN: Teams spent a lot of time on background checks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Day three, round four.

MCCANN: Prior to the draft, Aaron Hernandez was projected as a player that could be a first round pick and no later than a second round pick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now with another selection, they go Aaron Hernandez.

CANDIOTTI: He ends up the 113th pick passed over until the fourth round.

I have to believe that him falling so far is more than just a story about marijuana, that there were questions raised and background checks about him that caused teams to say we're going to downgrade him on our draft board.

CANDIOTTI: Ahead, Aaron Hernandez is formally accused of killing de Abreu and Furtado. And there's a surprise witness who says he saw it all.



[23:33:02] CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Bristol county jail, south of Boston. In the spring of 2014, it was home for former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez. As his lawyers prepare to defend him against charges he murdered Odin Lloyd.

But before he goes to trial for killing Lloyd, he faces a judge as the prime suspect in two other murders, the 2012 homicides of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. Nearly two full years after the homicides of the Cape Verdean immigrants, Hernandez is indicted, accused of killing de Abreu with a shot to the chest and Furtado with a bullet to his head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aaron Hernandez fired a .38 caliber revolver multiple times from the driver's side of his vehicle.

CANDIOTTI: It's all overwhelming for Maria Teixeira, Safiro Furtado's mother, who begins crying almost as soon as she walks into the arraignment.

TEIXEIRA (through translator): It's a sadness that overtakes my life. It's a terrible pain inside me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kill and murder Safiro Furtado. How do you plead to this indictment?

HERNANDEZ: Not guilty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Evidence suggests that in the months leading up to July 2012, the defendant had become increasingly sensitive and angered by what he believed to be people testing, trying or otherwise disrespecting him when he frequented nightclubs in the area.

CANDIOTTI: Prosecutors say Hernandez has a gun with him when he arrives in Boston that night to party with a friend. The two men enter Cure Lounge within minutes of de Abreu and his buddies. It's a coincidence. They don't know one another.

Shortly after the friends arrive at the club, de Abreu bumps into Hernandez who spills some of his drink. Prosecutors say that accident, spilling a drink, enrages Hernandez, and he won't let it go.

[23:35:28] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The defendant became angered and increasingly agitated, particularly after Mr. De Abreu smiled and did not apologize.

CANDIOTTI: That's it, just a spilled drink is what prosecutors claim sets off Hernandez.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was no observed verbal argument between the defendant and Mr. De Abreu, and there was no physical contact between them beyond that initial bump.

CANDIOTTI: But prosecutors say Hernandez appears boiling mad on security video. Later, they say, Hernandez and his friend wait for de Abreu and his buddies to leave the club and follow them when they drive away. Aaron Hernandez is now charged in two separate murder cases. There is the murder of Odin Lloyd and then there's this case, the murder of de Abreu and Furtado. It appears to be the stronger one.

MCCANN: The sources of evidence are much stronger at this point than existed with the Odin Lloyd case.

CANDIOTTI: Stronger for two reasons. First, a gun has been found.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have the murder weapon?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do. The gun was recovered in a routine traffic stop.

CANDIOTTI: The car's driver tells police the gun belongs to her friend who used the vehicle, quote, to visit a football player. Investigators say forensic tests prove the gun is the same one used in the Boston double murder. The murder weapon in the Lloyd case never found. And prosecutors in the Lloyd case don't have an eyewitness willing to testify against Hernandez. Prosecutors in the de Abreu/Furtado case do.

MCCANN: We have witnesses, particularly one witness who will apparently say that Hernandez did it.

CANDIOTTI: His name is alexander Bradley, the man shot in the eye in Florida who refused to tell police who did it. Bradley is also the friend with Hernandez the night de Abreu and Furtado are killed. He is talking now, claiming Hernandez shot him to shut him up about the double murder.

MCCANN: He saw, from what we have been told, Hernandez open fire at the men in the BMW. Bradley can put Hernandez there. Bradley can explain why Hernandez did it. Bradley is really the link between Aaron Hernandez and the crime.

CANDIOTTI: Up next, Hernandez is tried for the murder of Odin Lloyd.

WARD: Without a murder weapon, without any eye witnesses, I had concern about those things.



[23:42:19] CANDIOTTI (voice-over): For Odin Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, every day is a struggle.

WARD: Hey, handsome. Mommy's here to see you again.

CANDIOTTI: Visiting her son's grave helps.

WARD: I love you. I miss you so much, sweetie.

CANDIOTTI: And her faith gives her strength.

WARD: With God all things are possible. I said that to him all the time. CANDIOTTI: Getting Aaron Hernandez convicted for her son's murder is

possible, but not guaranteed. There's no weapon, no motive, no eyewitness testimony. Ursula ward enters court a bit worried.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, on June 16th of 2013 --

WARD: I have every confidence in the prosecutors, but without a murder weapon, without eyewitness, I have a lot of concern about those things. Then I found out there was videos all over.

CANDIOTTI: Ward is talking about the security cameras that seem to be nearly everywhere the night Lloyd was killed. Those videos, combined with text messages, let prosecutors show jurors what happened that night. Five hours before Lloyd's murder --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just ask you if you recognize --

CANDIOTTI: -- at a restaurant with his fiance and friends.


CANDIOTTI: Hernandez is texting his right-hand man, Ernest Wallace who lives 100 miles away in Connecticut.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Says hurry your ass up.

CANDIOTTI: At about the same time he is texting Lloyd to arrange a meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm coming to grab that tonight. You gone be around.

CANDIOTTI: Lloyd agrees typing, all right, where?

After midnight, security cameras show Wallace arriving at Hernandez's home with a sidekick, Carlos Ortiz. Hernandez isn't home yet, but when he returns after 1:00 a.m., the same security system records him walking with what appears to be a gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this photo, we can begin to see the outline of the firearm.

CANDIOTTI: At 1:12 a.m., cameras on the driveway pick up the men driving away in a rented Nissan Altima. At 2:10 a.m., they're heading toward Odin Lloyd's house when they stop at a gas station.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He went to buy gum.

[23:45:02] CANDIOTTI: Blue cotton candy gum. About 20 minutes later, Odin Lloyd's younger sister Shaquilla sees the Altima pull up in front of their home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The car pulled up in the driveway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At that time did your brother get in the car?


CANDIOTTI: Cell towers and a toll booth camera track the car as it travels toward a secluded area of an industrial park. At 3:22 a.m., Lloyd's sister gets a final text from him telling her he's with NFL, just so you know.

WARD: Him telling Shaquilla that is him telling her he is in trouble and if anything happened to him, this is who we supposed to look to.

CANDIOTTI: But the judge disagrees, ruling it's not proof Lloyd thought he was going to die. She bars the message from trial and the jury never hears it.

As Lloyd sends the text, headlights in the upper left of this video can be seen pulling into an unlit section of the industrial park. Prosecutors say it's the Altima. For the next three minutes and 40 seconds there is no movement on screen.

WARD: What in Jesus name my son was going through at that moment?

CANDIOTTI: Then headlights re-emerge. The time in between, prosecutors say, is when Lloyd is shot dead.

Around that same time, employees working the overnight shift at the industrial park are jolted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard a loud bang, maybe four or five times. I thought it was fireworks.

CANDIOTTI: Minutes later, at 3:29 a.m., Hernandez's home security system catches the Altima pulling up in his driveway. Three people get out. Odin Lloyd isn't one of them.

An investigator testifies that impressions he made of the Altima's tires match tracks found at the scene. The jury also hears startling testimony from the woman on duty when Hernandez returns the rented Altima.

KEELIA SMYTH, EMPLOYEE: I found a piece of chewed blue bubblicious gum and then then run the seat forward and I looked up and I saw what I thought was a bullet.

CANDIOTTI: That's the type of gum Hernandez purchased hours earlier. And it's not a bullet she finds but a shell casing. A ballistics expert testifies that casing matches five others found at the murder scene.

SGT. STEPHEN WALSH, MASSACHUSETTS STATE POLICE: They were fired from the same unknown weapon capable of chambering .45 caliber ammunition.

CANDIOTTI: The murder weapon, prosecutors believe it's a glock, has never been found. They suspect it's in a box inside this bag. Hernandez's fiance testifies she doesn't know what's in the bag, and that she gets rid of it after Hernandez calls her and asks her to ditch it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where did you dispose of it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And where was the dumpster?

JENKINS: I don't know.

CANDIOTTI: The defense does its best to punch holes in the state's case suggesting it was pot, not a gun in that bag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you recognize that smell to be?

JENKINS: Marijuana.

CANDIOTTI: And whenever possible they question images in the grainy videos that authorities believe show who murdered Odin Lloyd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does that appear to be Mr. Hernandez holding on gun?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It appears to be Mr. Hernandez and holding something in his hand with something that has a white glow to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Glock pistols don't have a white glow to them, do they sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they do not.

CANDIOTTI: Defense lawyers also stressed the lack of motive in this case.

MICHAEL FEE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Aaron Hernandez had the world at his feet. He had a long-term professional football contract. He was the father to a 7-month-old baby girl. Ladies and gentlemen, in June of 2013, Aaron Hernandez was planning a future, not a murder.

CANDIOTTI: Ahead, a verdict and a new lawyer.




[23:53:25] CANDIOTTI (voice-over): For Ursula Ward, it has been two tortious month. Then on April 15, 2015, a verdict.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What say you madam for person?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guilty of murder in the first degree.

CANDIOTTI: Aaron Hernandez is found guilty of murdering Odin Lloyd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are sentenced by order of the court for a term of your natural life without a possibility of parole.

WARD: I raise my hand to the master and I said "thank you Jesus." My baby can finally rest in peace.

CANDIOTTI: Her baby may be able to rest in place. The question now is Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado get the same results.

The trial is difficult. What do you tell yourself to try to get through this?

TEIXEIRA (through translator): I ask God to give me strengths and courage to endure this.

CANDIOTTI: Almost two years after the Lloyd's verdict, an anxious Maria Teixeira is front and center when Aaron Hernandez goes on trial for murdering her son Safiro Furtado and his friend, Daniel de Abreu.

Also there, a new nationally known lawyer for Hernandez, Jose Baez. The main witness this time around, Alexander Bradley testifying with immunity. Bradly says he saw it all and that Hernandez shot him in the face to keep him quite.

[23:55:13] Alexander Bradly, Eyewitness: He said what's up now? He started fired shots. He fired five shots, five rounds. I heard three or four clicks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You indicated that you and Mr. Hernandez walked up to the car.

CANDIOTTI: It all starts he said it started after de Abreu and Hernandez bumps into one another in the club.

BRADLY: Mr. Hernandez got mad. He turns toward that individual. He was upset about it. I kind of grabbed him (INAUDIBLE). No, let's just get out of here, you know, to avoid conflicts.

CANDIOTTI: And they showed jurors what they say is a confession by Hernandez. Tattoos by his right arm, revolvers barrel of five or six chambers loaded representing according to prosecutors of the five people in the car that night. Above the barrel, the words "God forgives" scroll backward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was there of a discussion why Mr. Hernandez wanted those words backward.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who made the decision about the number of chambers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The client always makes all decisions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And did Mr. Hernandez make the decision in this case?


CANDIOTTI: On defense, bias argues tattoos are just tattoos and alitmously attacks Alexander Bradley, a man currently imprisoned for shooting up a nightclub.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alexander Bradly lied.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aaron said was to get money from Aaron Hernandez.

BRADLY: At a point, that became my intent, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know you wanted to kill him, too, right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because you are a killer.


CANDIOTTI: Baez points the finger at Bradly saying he, not Hernandez killed Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.

The astounding verdict comes weeks later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You found the defendant not guilty, guilty of murder in the first degree or guilty of murder in the second degree?


CANDIOTTI: Not guilty of killing Daniel de Abreu. Not guilty of killing Safiro Furtado. Their families are in shocked.

DANIEL CONLEY, ATTORNEY: It goes without saying that they devastated by today's verdict. A lot of tears and anguish.

CANDIOTTI: As for Jose Baez, he later tells TMZ he is relieved and says he thinks he can also overturn the Lloyd conviction un-appealed. He still has many appeals which we are going to start taking a look at, Baez says. I always felt that was a winnable case.

It looks like Aaron Hernandez has hit a serious patch of good luck which is why the news on the morning of Wednesday April 19th is both shocking and in explicable.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Breaking news this morning, Aaron Hernandez, found dead in his prison cell. Massachusetts officials say he hangs himself.

CANDIOTTI: The same day his former teammates are celebrating their super bowl victory at the White House. Hernandez is found hanging by a bed sheet in his cell. The bible verse "John 316" written across his fore head. It promises "eternal life" to believers in Christ. The prison says the death is suicide and that Hernandez tried to jam his door from the inside. But Hernandez's entire legal team is skeptical and promises a thorough investigation.

JOSE BAEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Whether it is a suicide or not, we don't make that call until everything is done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you skeptical of the conclusion that it was a suicide?

BAEZ: Why are you so quick to accept their word?

CANDIOTTI: The death of Aaron Hernandez is not the end of this story. There is more. Hernandez was fighting to overturn his conviction in Odin Lloyd's murder but died before the appeal was completed.

According to an old legal rule, that means in the eyes of the law, the murder conviction never happened. Technically, leaving Aaron Hernandez not guilty of killing Odin Lloyd.

Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, three men murdered, four tragic endings.