Published On: Thu, Apr 16th, 2015

Ex-NFL Star Aaron Hernandez Guilty Of Murder

Ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez has been found guilty of first-degree murder.The former New England Patriots tight end was accused of the execution-style killing of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd in 2013.

Ex-NFL Star Aaron Hernandez

The verdict carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the once highly regarded football player.

Hernandez’s mother, Terri, and his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, gasped and sobbed as the verdict was read aloud in court.

Hernandez later turned to them and mouthed: “Be strong. Be strong.”

Mr Lloyd was found shot six times in an industrial park not far from Hernandez’s Massachusetts home in June 2013.

The semi-professional football player had been dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee.

Prosecutors said Hernandez, then 23, planned and carried out the murder for reasons that were never made clear to the jury.

Police zeroed in on the football star after investigators found a key to a car that had been rented by Hernandez in Mr Lloyd’s pocket.

The defence acknowledged during closing arguments that Hernandez was present when Mr Lloyd was killed, but pinned the shooting on two of the ex-Patriots star’s friends.

Those men, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, face separate trials in the case.

Mr Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward, spoke in court after the verdict was read, saying she had forgiven anyone who had a hand in her son’s death.

She said her “heart stopped beating for a moment” on the day of her son’s funeral.

“I felt like I wanted to go into the hole with my son,” Ms Ward said.

Jurors deliberated for more than six days before reaching its decision. The panel also found Hernandez guilty on firearm and ammunitions charges.

The convictions automatically trigger an appeal to Massachusetts’ highest court.

Hernandez faces a second murder trial later this year in Boston, where he is charged in the fatal drive-by shooting of two men outside a nightclub.

Once regarded as one of the best young players at his position, Hernandez’s downfall from football stardom was swift following his arrest.

He had signed a five-year $40m (£27m) contract with the Patriots a year before he was charged with Mr Lloyd’s killing.

Hernandez will now serve his sentence at a state prison located less than five miles from where the Patriots play their home games.