It’s one of those situations that sometimes have laypeople scratching their heads: A defendant charged with a serious crime is also alleged to have committed another kind of crime, perhaps one that appears related to the current charges. A judge rules that some or all of the evidence concerning the other incident is inadmissible in court
Here’s a real-life version of the dilemma, involving former National Football League player Aaron Hernandez, currently standing trial in Fall River, Massachusetts for the crime of murder:
According to a report from Reuters, the judge in Hernandez’s case ruled that jurors would not be permitted to hear about a former friend of his who alleged that Hernandez shot him in the face after a late-night dispute that took place in Florida in February 2013.
Prosecutors had wanted to introduce evidence related to the shooting of Alexander Bradley, who filed a civil suit against Hernandez. The judge disagreed, saying that that the motive and timing of the Florida incident was “quite different.”
The argument from the prosecution in Massachusetts for admitting information about the Bradley case: The Florida shooting incident effectively would torpedo the defense’s contention that Hernandez would never have shot the alleged victim in the Massachusetts case, Odin Lloyd, because the two men enjoyed a friendship. Hernandez is charged with shooting Lloyd, who was found in June 2013 in an industrial park near Hernandez’s Massachusetts home.
The prosecutor had pointed out that Hernandez’s defense attorneys had indicated no less than 32 times the nature of the relationship between Lloyd and Hernandez and had “constantly referred to them as being friends.”
A defense attorney countered by saying that prosecutors were trying to argue that Hernandez has “a propensity to shoot his friends.”
Bradley filed a civil suit in June 2014 against Hernandez. Though Bradley wound up losing his right eye, he reportedly never filed criminal charges.
Lloyd was shot multiple times. Investigators recovered several shell casings nearby. And they also purportedly found a similar shell casing that had been taken out of a car rented by Hernandez. The murder weapon, though, has not yet been found.