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's tattoos
Prosecution rests in trial of ex-NFL player Aaron Hernandez
New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is arraigned on charges of murder and weapons violations in Attleborough, Massachusetts, after being arrested, June 26, 2013. Hernandez, a 23-year-old rising football star with the New England Patriots, was arrested by police in a murder investigation and fired by the team on Wednesday, another blot on the National Football League's tightly protected image. REUTERS/Mike George/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW SPORT FOOTBALL TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
The words "blood" and "sweat" are seen tattooed on the hands of former NFL New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, as he appears in court for a motion hearing in Attleborough, Massachusetts, August 30, 2013. Hernandez, accused of killing 27-year-old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, will be arraigned September 6, in a Massachusetts Superior Court. Prosecutors say Hernandez and two other men drove Lloyd to an industrial park less than a mile from Hernandez' house in North Attleborough on June 17 before shooting Lloyd five times, including twice while he lay on the ground. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW SPORT FOOTBALL TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez's arm and tattoos are shown during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis January 31, 2012. The New York Giants will play the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on February 5. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 27: New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez after practice. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS - FEBRUARY 1: Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez holds his head in his heavily tattooed hand as he does a phone interview. Both the Patriots and the Giants held media availabilities today. New England's was held at the University Place Conference Center and Hotel, while New York's was held at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown. The New England Patriots will meet the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
ATTLEBORO, MA - AUGUST 22: A close up of Hernandez's tattoos. Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez at Attleboro District Court indicted on a charge of first-degree murder in the slaying of a Odin Lloyd, a Boston man whose bullet-riddled body was found in a North Attleborough industrial park in June. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)