POSTED: Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 9:55am
UPDATED: Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 9:57am
CNN — Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez -- already charged in the 2013 slaying of a semipro football player -- was indicted Thursday in connection with a 2012 Boston double homicide.
A grand jury had been looking into whether Hernandez played a role in the drive-by shooting that killed Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado in July 2012, according to law enforcement sources. Authorities said Abreu and Furtado were in a BMW outside a Boston nightclub when they were shot.
That 2012 shooting is separate from a 2013 killing in which Hernandez, 24, was arrested and charged last summer.
It first became public that Hernandez was suspected in the Boston murders when documents were unsealed in court January.
In Those records, it is suggested Hernandez was the triggerman in Abreu and Furtado's killings.
"There is ... probable cause to believe that Aaron Hernandez was operating the suspect vehicle used in the shooting homicides ... and may have been the shooter," reads a June 2013 warrant that was part of the unsealed batch of records.
The warrant was used to search a Toyota 4Runner linked to Hernandez that, according to court documents, witnesses saw at the scene of the crime. The warrant gave permission to search for gun residue on the SUV, which was recovered at Hernandez's uncle's home in Bristol, Connecticut.
In search warrant affidavits, investigators have said Hernandez and another man later identified as Alexander Bradley followed Abreu and Furtado into the club.
The former star football player and Bradley are seen on security cameras together inside Cure and also driving an SUV that had been following Abreu and Furtado when they left the club, according to court papers. Witnesses said that the SUV sped away after multiple shots were fired at the BMW.
In February, the Abreu and Furtado families filed a wrongful death lawsuits against Hernandez, with each family seeking $6 million.
Focus had already long been on Hernandez related to another killing. Hernandez was arrested in June 2013 and charged with first-degree murder and weapons charges in connection with the June 17 shooting death of 27-year-old semipro football player Odin Lloyd in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. On June 17, 2013, a jogger found a body riddled with gunshot wounds at an industrial park in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, which was later identified as Lloyd.
Prosecutors have said that earlier on June 17, 2013, Lloyd was seen at around 2:30 a.m. with Hernandez and Hernandez's friends, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, in a rented silver Nissan Altima.
On June 18, 2013, police searched Hernandez's home about a mile from where the body was found. On June 22, they searched Hernandez's house again. Days later the football player was arrested and charged with first-degree murder for Lloyd's death. Hernandez also was hit with five weapons-related charges.
In court on June 26, First Assistant District Attorney Bill McCauley said that Hernandez "drove the victim to the remote spot, and then he orchestrated his execution."
"He orchestrated the crime from the beginning," McCauley said. "He took steps to conceal and destroy evidence, and he took steps to prevent the police from speaking to ... an important witness."
Hernandez pleaded not guilty, and a judge ordered him held without bail.
The NFL's Patriots then dropped the tight end from their roster.
At that June 26 hearing, defense attorney Michael Fee said that the evidence against his client was circumstantial and that bail should be granted so that Hernandez can return home to spend time with his fiancee and his then 8-month-old child.
"It is a circumstantial case. It is not a strong case," Fee said, arguing that Hernandez had cooperated with law enforcement and was not a flight risk.
While investigators worked, and the former football star stayed behind bars, the Lloyd case took several twists and turns.
Last September, Hernandez's associate, Wallace, pleaded not guilty to being an accessory after the fact of a slaying in Lloyd's death. That month Ortiz, 27, of Bristol, Connecticut, was also indicted on a single count of accessory to murder after the fact, in connection with the killing of Lloyd. He pleaded not guilty.
Among Hernandez's jail visitors have been his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, and cousin, Tanya Cummings Singleton, both of whom face charges in connection with the Lloyd homicide, the court papers revealed in February of this year.
Last October Jenkins pleaded not guilty to perjury charges after prosecutors alleged that she lied to a grand jury and disposed evidence.