FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) - The prosecution rested Thursday in the murder trial of former New England Patriots star tight end Aaron Hernandez after spending more than two months presenting a case that he killed the boyfriend of his fiancee's sister.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder in the June 17, 2013, killing of Odin Lloyd, who was found dead in an industrial park less than a mile from Hernandez's home. At the time, Hernandez had a $40 million contract with the Patriots.
Prosecutors called more than 100 witnesses since testimony began Jan. 29, including team owner Robert Kraft, who testified this week that two days after the killing, Hernandez looked him in the eye and told him he was innocent. They also submitted hundreds of pieces of evidence, including surveillance videos from inside Hernandez's home that showed him holding a black object that appeared to be a gun less than 10 minutes after Lloyd's killing. A joint found near Lloyd's body had DNA from both men on it.
Hernandez's legal team has gone after that evidence, calling into question the testimony of an employee of weapons manufacturer Glock who had identified the black object as a gun and arguing instead that it was a piece of electronics such as an iPad or a TV remote. They also have gone after the police investigation, painting it as bumbling and inept and saying Hernandez was targeted as a suspect because he is a celebrity.
Prosecutor William McCauley announced Thursday that the prosecution had rested. Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh then sent the jurors home.
Garsh is expected to hear arguments Friday on several pending issues. Hernandez's lawyer James Sultan told Garsh this week that the defense team expects to call witnesses Monday and be completed with their questioning that day.
Once the defense rests, each side will deliver a closing argument. Then the jury will be given instructions, and three alternates will be randomly selected from among the 15 jurors immediately before deliberating. A final jury of 12 members will decide Hernandez's fate.
Eighteen jurors began the trial in January, but three were dismissed, including one who is accused of misrepresenting her answers during screening in a bid to get onto the jury.
Aaron Hernandez Tattoos
Prosecution rests in trial of ex-NFL player Aaron Hernandez
Former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez sits during a hearing at Bristol Superior Court Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in Fall River, Mass. At the hearing, the judge rejected a request by prosecutors for Hernandez's jailhouse phone recordings, then ordered them to turn over to the defense copies of calls they acknowledged already having. The ex-NFL player has pleaded not guilty to murder in the killing of Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old Boston man who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee. Lloyd, a semi-professional football player was found dead June 17 near Hernandez's North Attleborough home. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, Jonathan Wiggs, Pool)
Former New England Patriots NFL football player Aaron Hernandez's tattooed hands are secured with handcuffs as he arrives for his court appearance at the Fall River Superior Court in Fall River, Mass., Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. A Massachusetts judge may impose a formal gag order in the murder case against Hernandez, after his attorneys accused the state of allowing leaks that jeopardize his right to a fair trial. (AP Photo/Boston Herald, Matt Stone, Pool)
FILE - In this June 27, 2013 file photo, former New England Patriots football standout Aaron Hernandez stands during a bail hearing in Superior Court in Fall River, Mass., charged with killing Odin Lloyd. Hernandez is scheduled to be arraigned May 28, 2014, on two unrelated murder charges in the 2012 shooting deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston. Prosecutors are also seeking assistance from tattoo artists who may have inked Hernandez's right arm between February 2012 and June 2013. The tattoo artists are considered witnesses, not suspects. (AP Photo/Boston Herald, Ted Fitzgerald, Pool, File)
New England Patriots' Aaron Hernandez catches a pass during NFL football training camp in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday, July 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez talks to reporters at his locker after NFL football practice in Foxborough, Mass., Friday, Jan. 27, 2012. The Patriots are scheduled to face the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez celebrates a long gain to near the goal line, which set up a touchdown, against the Buffalo Bills in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday Jan. 1, 2012. The Patriots won 49-21. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez listens to the prosecution's summary of facts as he is arraigned on homicide charges at Suffolk Superior Court in Boston, Wednesday, May 28, 2014. Hernandez pleaded not guilty in the shooting deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. He already faces charges in the 2013 killing of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. (AP Photo/Dominick Reuter, Pool)