NFL Player Tries to Win Religious Sympathy From Jury

Aaron Hernandez, former tight end for the New England Patriots, is on trial for murder and the jury was to take a tour of his house late last week. So naturally, he (his attorneys, most likely) decided to get some sympathy with the jury by adding a bunch of religious memorabilia to his house that wasn’t there before he was charged.

Citing the O.J. Simpson case, a prosecutor in the murder trial of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez told a judge Thursday that several trophies and religious items had been added to Hernandez’s home since the 2013 killing, and asked that they be removed before the jury tours the house.

The defense agreed to remove the items, or to cover them before jurors see the home during a visit scheduled for Friday…

But on Thursday, prosecutor Patrick Bomberg said he took a tour through the house a day earlier and discovered religious items had been added, as was memorabilia from his NFL, college and high school careers. He said it was added in several rooms in the house, and that furniture was added to hold it.

“It’s not nearly the same as it appeared back in 2013,” Bomberg said.

He compared it to how O.J. Simpson’s home was changed and manipulated before the jurors in his murder trial visited it. In that case, photographs and pictures were placed in the home to portray Simpson as a family man, and a Bible was placed on a table to play to jurors’ religious sympathies.

Yeah, he has a Bible on a table and a picture of the Virgin Mary on the wall — he couldn’t possibly have killed that guy! This just speaks to how deeply we still view religion as an indication of morality, all evidence to the contrary of course.

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  • eric

    This just speaks to how deeply we still view religion as an indication of morality, all evidence to the contrary of course.

    Well, maybe.

    I think its more about lawyers’ ability to jury select for a particular type of jurist (here, religious). AIUI these big cases often go through hundreds of potential jurists before they find 12 acceptable. If the defense attorney wanted jurists who valued religious affiliation or emotional pleas over evidence, I’m sure he/she could find them even if they were a small minority of the jury pool.

    Its also partially about “fling lots of arguments and hopefully one will stick.” Just because they laid out the bible doesn’t mean the lawyer thinks it’ll necessarily work. They may just be doing it as one of many things. As the article says about the OJ case, the defense attorney didn’t just put out a bible, but a whole host of family and ‘nice OJ’ photographs too. I’m sure they did the same thing here: the religious stuff was probably just one thing they flung at the jury….to see what sticks.

  • caseloweraz

    When I read the phrase “religious memorabilia” I thought of the bones of martyred saints. But that has to be a misinterpretation, right?

  • colnago80

    The judge in this case should do what Judge Ito failed to do. Namely conduct a tour of the house with the attorneys and order the removal of such items before the tour. Do that in the morning before the tour with the house sealed afterwards so that no modifications could be made.

  • Sastra

    There’s always the chance that doing stuff like this will end up pissing off Christians more than placating them. After all, it’s not as if they’ve never heard of ‘hypocrisy’ and many of the pious take a very dim view of someone suddenly grabbing a Bible and cross as soon as they’re caught and it’s turned convenient.

    The jury may not be aware of the shenanigans, but the general public can put two and two together — assuming they’re not the type to melt into helpless puddles of goo the moment anyone throws a bone to faith.

  • typecaster

    eric @1: Lawyers do try to stack the juries to favor their clients, but their ability to do so is not unlimited. Any juror may be dismissed for cause, but that cause has to be acceptable to the judge. In Massachusetts, each side’s attorney also gets 2-4 peremptory challenges, which allows them to dismiss up to that many jurors for essentially no reason. That’s helpful, but hardly a large enough number to allow them to find the exact perfect set of jurors to maximize their client’s chances.

  • freemage

    typecaster @7: I believe one of the problems is that what eric @1 refers to as ‘big cases’ (ie, high-publicity cases surrounding celebrities) are easier for both sides to attempt to ‘sculpt’, in that you can press for any given juror to be removed simply because they know too much about the case–which is going to be true of all but the most dedicated shut-ins. So you only raise the objection for cause for people you’d rather exclude for some other reason entirely.

    That said, it does cut both ways–shaping juries thus comes down to a tactical edge. It does favor the defendant slightly in criminal cases, since the jurors have to be unanimous to convict.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    This just speaks to how deeply we still view religion as an indication of morality, all evidence to the contrary of course.

    Nonono.

    It just speaks to how former NFL players procrastinate with regard to home decoration, that’s all!

  • colnago80

    Re freemage @ #6

    That’s how jury consultants like Jo-Ellen Dimitrius get rich.

  • howardhershey

    If I found the bones of a saint there, I would ask how he came by them. He is being charged with murder, is he not? Did they remove the pentagrams and Koran?

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @howardhershey, #9:

    If I found the bones of a saint there, I would ask how he came by them

    Given that he was on offense, I’d have to say a d-back got a finger stuck in Hernandez’ face guard.