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CNN SPECIAL REPORTS
Downward Spiral: Inside the Case Against Aaron Hernandez
Aired April 7, 2015 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The following is a CNN Special Report.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN SPECIAL REPORT HOST: Tonight, Aaron Hernandez, he was a rising NFL star racing for greatness.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the meaning on your forearm?
AARON HERNANDEZ, FORMER NFL STAR: That this could be -- it is up to me. Basically, I'm saying that my life is in my hand, wherever I want my life to be, that's me, to make it up that way.
CANDIOTTI: The question now, what sort of life did the ex-patriot make for himself?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wanted to be the best.
CANDIOTTI: But he's accused of the worst.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would a football player, a highly successful, affluent, popular football player be a murderer?
CANDIOTTI: As the NFL struggles to deal with issues of abuse and violence, Hernandez goes on trial for murder. What will his jury here, who might they hear a problem? And how could it all end?
Do you think there's a chance that Aaron Hernandez, may be found not guilty?
MIKE BRANCH, BOSTON BANDITS COACH: That's what they would say.
CANDIOTTI: Downward Spiral, inside the case against Aaron Hernandez.
It will be unlike anything Fall River Massachusetts has ever seen, as the trial of Aaron Hernandez finally begins. Four months now, lawyers in the case have been arguing about evidence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you have a warrant, of course we'll turn it over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talking about, what they can put on to prove their case.
CANDIOTTI: Including cell phones.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The court should grant the motion to suppress the telephone. CANDIOTTI: Text messages.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On its face, a totally innocuous message.
CANDIOTTI: And even the trial's location.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your honor, the defendant Aaron Hernandez seeks a change of venue.
CANDIOTTI: It's now been 18 months since the murder Hernandez is accused of committing. A murder that happened right here in the middle of New England Patriots' country, where football is a passion, and where Saturday mornings are the perfect time to play.
BRANCH: You wake up and your adrenaline is on.
One, two, three.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSONS: Forward!
BRANCH: A block down in a pool.
CANDIOTTI: Mike Branch coaches the Boston Bandits, a semi pro-team. He remembers June 15th 2013 like it was yesterday, something seemed out of place.
BRANCH: A black, suburban pulls like right up on my car. Like who's pulling right in front of my car?
CANDIOTTI: In the driver seat, Bandit defensive end, 27-year-old Odin Lloyd.
BRANCH: Then I see a smile, "Coach."
CANDIOTTI: Branch thinks it's odd because Lloyd doesn't own a car.
BRANCH: I'm like, "Whose car is this?"
CANDIOTTI: Branch has his suspicions, but he never gets a straight answer. Lloyd is busy telling his buddies about the good time he had at a club the night before.
BRANCH: All he say, he was at the club with Mr. Hernandez, and they were partying, and he had a good time and that Mr. Hernandez spent a good amount of money.
CANDIOTTI: Mr. Hernandez is Aaron Hernandez, a $40 million rising star with the New England Patriots.
How much money?
BRANCH: He said like 10 grand.
CANDIOTTI: 10 grand, in one night?
BRANCH: That's what he said, yeah. CANDIOTTI: Odin Lloyd's best buddies, Darryl Hodge and Darryl Sweet,
say their friend wasn't normally a big partier, they know a different side of him. The friend they described was passionate about football.
DARRYLY HODGE, FRIEND OF LLOYD: The whistle blows, he's coming in full throttle.
CANDIOTTI: And family.
DARYL SWEET, FRIEND OF LLOYD: He definitely always took care of his mom and his sisters.
OLIVIA THIBOLI: My brother and I were kind of like, I wouldn't say best friends, but you know, as close as siblings can get.
BRANCH: In and out, (inaudible).
CANDIOTTI: Branch, who also coached Lloyd in high school, didn't hesitate to give him advice as an adult and an occasional reality check.
BRANCH: At some point, they realize they're not going to the NFL, this is just going to be for fun. What I got to do is start preparing myself of life and ...
CANDIOTTI: He says Lloyd was doing landscaping while figuring out "what next?"
BRANCH: I had spoken to him about you know, taking firefighter test.
CANDIOTTI: Lloyd also began dating college student Shanea Jenkins. She's the link between the young man who dreamed of the NFL and the all-American who made it.
What's your understanding of how they met?
HODGE: They're dating sisters.
CANDIOTTI: Shanea Jenkins is the younger sister of Shayanna who's engaged to Hernandez and mother of his little girl. But how close were the talented tight-end and the struggling landscaper?
How much do you know that they hang out together?
HODGE: Really, just two different worlds. But he had one world, we got our world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just checking out my new camera.
CANDIOTTI: On Sunday, June 16th, Father's Day 2013, Odin Lloyd is cruising with his friends in that mysterious Black Suburban.
SWEET: We had the music playing, you know, you're enchanted to the music and stuff.
HODGE: We're laughing and we're talking and, Odin driving, he got the one hand, tight driving, like he, he's just having fun. Later when we went to our mom's house, he was playing pool.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put it on the table (inaudible).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HODGE: I've seen Odin made one of the most spectacular shots I've ever seen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have no chance in hell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: It was a good day?
SWEET: Oh it was a great day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got that? I hope you have got that on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HODGE: A great day.
CANDIOTTI: And it was coming to an end, after Lloyd got a text from his job saying he had to work the next morning.
HODGE: Then he got another text, asking him to hang out.
CANDIOTTI: A text from Hernandez.
HODGE: In the text, he wanted to just, "let's have another great night."
CANDIOTTI: I think that there was a part of you that thought, "Man, you got to go to work the next day--"
HODGE: Go home, rest. I was like. "It's already like nine and nine- ish.
CANDIOTTI: So when you guys left each other, what do you remember saying to him?
HODGE: I'm going to see you later.
CANDIOTTI: Little did he know, there would be no later. The next night, Monday June 17, 5:37 p.m., Lloyd's body is discovered by a jogger in North Attenborough, 35 miles south of where he lives.
Here at the crime scene, investigators find Odin Lloyd's wallet, his driver's license and a five 45 caliber shell casings. They suspect he was first shot in the back, and then finished off as he was lying face up in this secluded area of an industrial park.
Darryl Hodge learns of the murder from Lloyd's sister Olivia who calls him.
HODGE: I could hear.
CANDIOTTI: Did she say, he's dead?
HODGE: In between the cries and the bawling, "Darryl, Odin is dead." "Olivia I'll be there in a minute." I got to the house, I got inside like--
CANDIOTTI: And you saw his mom? What did she say?
HODGE: "Darryl, who killed my son?" What do you say to that? I mean, like I fell to my knees, gave her a hug, I wrapped my hand around her hip and I was like, "Mom, I don't know, I don't know."
CANDIOTTI: That night was tough for Daryl Sweet, who was also at Lloyd's home.
SWEET: I was going back and I'm going to stay in my car.
CANDIOTTI: What were the questions in your head?
SWEET: Who was he with? I didn't know. Who he possibly could have been with until I got the news about Shaquilla's text.
CANDIOTTI: Shaquilla is Lloyd's youngest sister. She had seen him picked up from their house and driven away earlier that night. Just before Lloyd dies, police say, he send Shaquilla chilling text messages. At 3:07 a.m., Lloyd asks, "You saw who I'm with?" At 3:11, he checks in again, texting, "Hello." 3:19, Shaquilla answers, "My phone was dead, who was that?" 3:22 a.m., Lloyd answers, "NFL," and a minute later, at 3:23 a.m., Lloyd sends his very last text, "Just so you know."
HODGE: If you got (inaudible) it was someone is going down.
CANDIOTTI: But what was going down, and why?
Still ahead, will the jury ever see that final text? Not if the defense can help it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These messages do not suggest fear, that the government wants to put a much more sinister passed on them.
CANDIOTTI: For Darryl Hodge, going to the gym means lifting weights. But he's also carrying one, trying to understand why someone killed his best friend, Odin Lloyd.
HODGE: I should still be lifting with my bro. He should still be trying to dunk. CANDIOTTI: After a jogger finds Odin Lloyd's bullet-riddled body, police quickly find their first pieces of evidence, distinctive tire tracks, Lloyd's cellphone, and keys for that black Suburban he'd been driving all weekend. Police quickly learned it was rented by New England Patriot, Aaron Hernandez.
Over the next several days, investigators searched his home and cars, removing bags of possible evidence.
June 26th 2013, nine days after the murder of Odin Lloyd, Hernandez is arrested.
The charges, first degree premeditated murder and having illegal weapons. His plea...
HERNANDEZ: Not guilty.
CANDIOTTI: And he's no longer a New England Patriot.
BILL BELICHICK, HEAD COACH NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: I and other members of the organization were shocked and disappointed.
CANDIOTTI: Hernandez is canned before he reaches the courthouse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hernandez is charged a very serious crime, but that shouldn't be enough to hold him without bail.
CANDIOTTI: And he's staying in jail. His attempts at bail, denied.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the commonwealth has presented a case that's circumstantial to be sure, but very, very strong.
CANDIOTTI: Hours after his arrest, the public hears those details for the first time. 9:02 p.m., Father's Day, June 16th.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The defendant has sent a text message to a friend of his, who is out of state, "Please make it back."
CANDIOTTI: That friend is Ernest Wallace in Hernandez's home town of Bristol, Connecticut, more than a hundred miles away. At 9:35, Hernandez text him again, "Get your ass up here." Wallace is joined by Carlos Ortiz, both have criminal records. And about the same time, Hernandez is also texting Lloyd, "I'm coming to grab that tonight. You going to be around? I need that and we could step for a little again."
When Lloyd doesn't answer immediately, Hernandez sends another text at 9:34, "What up?" Lloyd answers at 9:37, "All right, where?" At 9:39, Hernandez replies, "I don't know. It don't matter but I'm going to hit you when I'm that way." After midnight, surveillance stills, released by authorities, show Wallace and Ortiz arriving at Hernandez's home. Inside, the football player is holding what appears to be a gun, and he's not happy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He makes a statement, he's upset that he can't trust anyone anymore. The three of them departed the defendant's home at 1:12 in the morning in the silver Nissan Altima.
CANDIOTTI: 2:10 a.m., he's on camera at this gas station.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The defendant bought gas, he bought two other items, Bubblicious, blue cotton candy gum, and rolling papers for marijuana.
CANDIOTTI: About 20 minutes later, 2:32 a.m., a camera captures the same Altima, pulling up to Lloyd's home. Lloyd gets inside. As they start driving, a sign of trouble, Hernandez tells Lloyd he doesn't trust him, angry about who he was talking to at the club where they partied Friday night.
How do investigators know about the conversation in the car? Ortiz sources say squeal starting questioning.
At 3:22 a.m., a string of security cameras at an industrial park pick up the Altima as it heads toward a secluded area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are no homes there, there are no artificial lighting.
CANDIOTTI: It's now 3:23, and Odin Lloyd sends his sister that final text, telling her he's with NFL, adding, "Just so you know." Between 3:23 and 3:27, workers nearby tell police they hear gunshots.
Hernandez's home is only a half mile from the murder scene. At 3:29, a camera shows an Altima pulling up in Hernandez's driveway. Only three people get out. Odin Lloyd isn't one of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The defendant was walking through the house.
CANDIOTTI: Back inside the house, images show Wallace, then again with Ortiz in the basement doorway with Hernandez nearby. And this, Hernandez wearing white with a gun in his left hand. Police, a law enforcement source says, believe this is the murder weapon, a .45 caliber gun. It remains missing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they all then go down to the basement. Once in the basement, the surveillance gets shut off.
CANDIOTTI: Around 5:30 that evening, prosecutors say Hernandez and his two friends show up here to return their rented Nissan Altima. The manager tells investigators Hernandez offers her a blue bubble gum. It's the same kind he bought at that gas station, and now it's showing up in the returned rental along with the .45 caliber bullet casing.
The manager tosses the gum and the bullet casing in a dumpster. Police say the shell came from the same gun that fired the rounds at the murder scene. And they say tire impressions taken near the body match the kind of tires on the Altima.
Hernandez's attorneys won't comment on the case and all parties are muzzled by a gag order.
For family and friends of Odin Lloyd, knowing some details helps, but they don't answer this question.
BRANCH: Why? That's the biggest question, why.
CANDIOTTI: As Aaron Hernandez adjust to life behind bars, charged with murder, yet another accusation of gun violence makes headlines.
Four months before Odin Lloyd is gunned down, the football player is at Tootsie's strip club in Miami. A law enforcement source says Hernandez drops about 10 grand that night. One of the men he's with, Alexander Bradley. Prosecutors described him as Hernandez's former right hand man.
By morning, Bradley is shot in the face, dumped out of a vehicle and left for dead, still wearing his now blood soaked VIP wrist band from the club.
Police retrieved this bullet fragment from his head but Bradley won't give them any details.
MICHAEL MCCANN, LEGAL ANALYST AND WRITER, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: When the police investigated this incident, Alexander Bradley didn't point a finger at Hernandez.
CANDIOTTI: That changes when Bradley sues claiming Aaron Hernandez caused him his right eye.
Bradley later tells prosecutors he was shot after Hernandez felt disrespected during an argument over a missing cell phone.
After Bradley is shot, prosecutors say Hernandez gets a new right hand man, Ernest Wallace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This defendant is more commonly known by his nickname which is "Hobo."
CANDIOTTI: Wallace has a long criminal history. Prosecutors say he sells and uses drugs, including the hallucinogen angel dust or PCP.
He's not the only one. Court document show Wallace's side-kick, Carlos Ortiz, admits he is regularly abusing PCP, alcohol, and THC, pot.
Sources tell CNN Aaron Hernandez also smoke a lot of pot, one calling it a boatload.
Prosecutors say the tight-end would give Odin Lloyd money to buy him marijuana. CNN obtained this photograph of a stack of blunts. A source says it was made with marijuana, said to be supplied by Hernandez. Sources tell CNN Aaron Hernandez also use angel dust and that could've made him paranoid. One says "He felt he was a target. That people were coming after him."
MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, FORMER FBI: Combination of those drugs depending on the long term use of the drugs and the amount of drugs could cause someone to become violent, could cause someone to become very paranoid, could cause someone to over react to a situation, appear to be more impulsive.
CANDIOTTI: That kind of behavior doesn't describe the Aaron Hernandez many remember growing up in Bristol, Connecticut where his family was celebrated as a local sports dynasty.
BOB MONTGOMERY, THE BRISTOL PRESS: I don't think there was another family that was more familiar in Bristol. Aaron was our "golden boy." He had the family traits. His father and his uncle were standout athletes.
CANDIOTTI: His older brother DJ was a sports hero too.
Bob Montgomery covers high school sports for the Bristol Press.
MONTGOMERY: Aaron did track, in addition to football, he also did basketball. He was described in any sport he played as the man playing with children.
Brad McMillan and Andrew Ragali played basketball with Aaron beginning in middle school.
ANDREW RAGALI: He was twice the size of me. We're really at the same height but he was just more athletic, obviously, and I mean, he practice like all the time.
CANDIOTTI: Practiced because his father Dennis pushed him constantly.
SHERIFF THOMAS HODGSON, BRISTOL COUNTY: His father was pretty strict. I mean, he told me his father used to make him -- to shoot 500 shots before he went, sometimes to play with his friends. His dad clearly kept them anchored.
MONTGOMERY: I saw a closeness with them that I have never seen before. There was something about Dennis and Aaron, the way they intertwined. It was just -- it is magic to my eyes.
CANDIOTTI: But in a heartbeat, that closeness is gone.
MCMILLAN: I was sitting in Math class with another team mate, phone rang, he go in (ph) to go pick up the phone, and then he said he needed to go out to coaches' room. The Coach walks in and he says, "Dennis has passed away."
CANDIOTTI: Dennis Hernandez, Aaron's father, his anchor, dies after routine hernia surgery. It hits 16-year-old Aaron hard.
MCMILLAN: He was just sad. He can't stop the tears.
RAGALI: I felt uncomfortable just to see him so hurt. I felt bad for him.
CANDIOTTI: That father-son relationship comes up in conversations with Sheriff Thomas Hodgson who runs the jail where Hernandez was held for a year before being moved. HODGSON: Clearly, at 16 years old losing your father it would be very easy to fall into the lifestyle of following people that don't help you make the best choices.
CANDIOTTI: One choice he makes is to tattoo some of his dad's advice on his arms.
HERNANDEZ: That's a quote my father always used to give me. If it is to be, it is up to me. Basically saying whatever I want my life to be, it's up to me to make it out that way.
CANDIOTTI: When it comes time to make his college pick, not even his brother DJ can get Aaron to join him where their dad played, the University of Connecticut.
DJ HERNANDEZ, AARON'S BROTHER: At first, he wouldn't even talk to me, but there's days he's saying like, "It's our dream to play together. Come on, please."
CANDIOTTI: But Aaron stands firm believing his football career will soar in Gator Country.
Coming up, a promising college career overshadowed by trouble off the field.
CANDIOTTI: With the man who kept him grounded now gone, Aaron Hernandez takes a pass on his father's school, the University of Connecticut. Cutting his high school senior year in half, he heads to the University of Florida.
MCMILLAN: Then I was kind of just bummed that he wasn't going to be on our basketball team.
CANDIOTTI: In January 2007, he joins the Gators and star quarterback team Tim Tebow. By April, still long before the Gators season opener, there's trouble off the field. The rookie teen loses his cool at this popular off campus restaurant.
There's an argument between Aaron Hernandez and the manager over a bill. Tim Tebow tries to calm things down and settled the check but according to this police report, it all ends with Aaron Hernandez, sucker punching the manager on the left side of his head bursting an eardrum.
The manager later tells police University of Florida coaches and lawyers have contacted him and they're working on an agreement. A university spokesman says they are not aware of any settlement.
Five months later in September, there's more trouble, this time, a shooting near the university. It begins with young men snatching gold neck chains at a local club. There's an argument in the parking lot across the street. Police reports several U.F. football players are involved including Hernandez.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know Hernandez was there, there was trouble. There was arguing loud.
CANDIOTTI: The suspected chain snatchers get into this man's car. His name is Cory (ph) and doesn't want his face shown for fear of retribution.
Can you point out roughly where it was?
Moments after leaving the club, someone fires into Cory's (ph) Crown Vic hitting him in the head.
Can you tell me and show me where is it that that bullet went? It came right about there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't imagine what he would've felt that night.
CANDIOTTI: Cory's (ph) Aunt Stephanie (ph) remembers he nearly died.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My heart stopped a couple of times.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They had to take half of my skull to get the bullet out. I was in rehab and they've helped me to walk again and talk again.
CANDIOTTI: Police interview more than 20 people and they try to question Hernandez, but he's the only one who doesn't make a statement after invoking his right to council. At that time, his mother, Terri Hernandez tells the Orlando Sentinel "I know he was at the club, but he never saw any shooting". It's still an open case. No one's ever been charged. Both Cory (ph) and his aunt Stephanie (ph) have been trying to get to the truth for seven years.
You've done a lot to try to get to the heart of what happened. What about going to the University of Florida?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've tried it. I was just told that they would put the guys on curfew so that they could, I guess, lessen their activities in clubs and things of that nature. I would have like to have seen some more in-depth questioning of those football players.
CANDIOTTI: Citing privacy laws, the University of Florida won't discuss specifics of how players are disciplined. Was Hernandez on a slippery slope? He was tearing up the field as a Gator, but some who knew him were worried especially when he was unsupervised away from the game.
"If you could keep him on one side, he'd be fine." One source put it. "The problem was he couldn't stay away from the other side "adding "It was a recipe for disaster". And he was a recipe that included marijuana. Hernandez was suspended, at least, once for using the drug. It's an issue that follows him when he enters the draft, his junior year. MCCANN: Teams spent a lot of time on background checks, hiring private investigators to be sure that this is somebody who enter the NFL and stay out of trouble.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I played 13 years.
CANDIOTTI: Former Patriots' running back Kevin Faulk says the checks are (inaudible) and intensive.
And how far back do they go?
KEVIN FAULK, FOOTBALL TEAMMATE: If he done something in middle school, they are going to go back and find somebody that was around that time of accident.
CANDIOTTI: Trying to head up trouble before the draft, Hernandez goes on the offensive writing a letter to the patriots, director of personnel. "If you draft me as a member of the New England Patriots," he wrote, "I will willfully submit to a bi-weekly drug test throughout my rookie season".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Day three, round four.
MCCANN: Prior to the draft, Aaron Hernandez was projected as a player that could be a first round pick and no later than a second round pick.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now with another selection, they go Aaron Hernandez.
CANDIOTTI: He ends the 113th pick passed over until the fourth round.
MCCANN: I have to believe that him falling so far is more than just a story about marijuana that there were questions raised and background checks about him that caused teams say, "We're going to downgrade him on our draft board."
CANDIOTTI: But during his first year with the Patriots, he proves himself.
MCCANN: There were questions that, "Oh, he's too young to be in the league that he's not going to be able to get double check system." He was able to debunk those by having a solid season.
FAULK: Tight end and a receiver body, that could play running back, that could return a punts, return kicks.
CANDIOTTI: That challenge gets the 22-year-old a five year $40 million extension.
HERNANDEZ: You can't come here and act like to act the way I wanted to act. If you get changed by (inaudible) way.
CANDIOTTI: What no one knew at the time, one month before he signs that deal, the football player parties at a Boston club.
That night, two young men are shot and killed after leaving that same club by a man driving a silver SUV. Is there a connection?
CANDIOTTI: It's a silver SUV, but in the life of Aaron Hernandez, it's much more. While searching his cousin's home for clues in Odin Lloyd's murder, police stumbled on a Toyota 4Runner. It's in a garage and it belongs to a leasing company who loaned it to the Patriot's tight end in exchange for promotional work. For a year, Boston police have been looking for an SUV linked to an unsolved double murder. This appears to be it.
How difficult has this loss been for you sir as a father?
Ernesto Abreu's son Daniel was killed in that drive by shooting outside of Boston night club along with his friend Safiro Furtado on July 16, 2012. Witnesses say two men in a silver SUV with Rhode Island plates pulls alongside Abreu's car, shots are fired.
Finding that SUV and other chips (ph) leads to a stunning discovery. Aaron Hernandez seen on security video police say, with another man following Abreu and Furtado into that night club and stalking them in a silver SUV after they leave.
Almost a year after he's charged with Odin Lloyd's murder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aaron Hernandez please rise.
CANDIOTTI: Aaron Hernandez is indicted for the murders of those two young men.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you plead this indictment?
HERNANDEZ: Not guilty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The defendant leaned out of the driver's side window of the SUV with a loaded revolver in his hand extended out. The defendant immediately fired at least five rounds from a 38 caliber revolver into the victim's car.
CANDIOTTI: But why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daniel de Abreu while dancing nearby accidentally bumped into the defendant causing the defendant's drink to partially spilled.
CANDIOTTI: The motive, prosecutor say, is nothing more than a spilled drink by a complete stranger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The defendant told his friend that Mr. de Abreu had deliberately bumped him and was quote "trying him."
CANDIOTTI: Court documents identify the friend with Hernandez that night as Alexander Bradley, the same Alexander Bradley who says Hernandez later shot out of his right eye because the football player felt disrespected during an argument over a cellphone.
All leading to a key question, do those two violent acts suggest a dangerous pattern of behavior driven by paranoia.
CNN has learned the prosecutors believe that behavior is what led to Odin Lloyd's murder. A source with knowledge of the investigation says the night they were at this club, Hernandez gets angry when he sees Lloyd talking with two men.
And angry again later at an apartment he rents. It's unclear whether there was another chipping point. Possibly, prosecutor say Hernandez was mad at himself for telling Lloyd about that double murder.
GERRY LEONE, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS DISTRICT ATTORNEY AND FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Motive does not have to be proven under the law.
CANDIOTTI: Gerry Leone is both a former Massachusetts district attorney and federal prosecutor.
LEONE: Juries like motive, juries want to know why someone did something especially when they've done something that's alleged to have been as heinous as this was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The defendant was the one...
CANDIOTTI: A motive, no matter how trivial would make the state's case stronger.
Prosecutors have already bolstered the case by upgrading the charges against codefendants Ortiz and Wallace to murder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you plead?
CARLOS ORTIZ, DEFENDANT: Not guilty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not guilty.
MCCANN: Charging Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace for murder really signals that this would be what's called a joint venture murder prosecution where anyone who actively participates in the murder can be held guilty for the murder.
CANDIOTTI: That would mean Hernandez could be convicted of murder even if prosecutors can't prove he fired the gun. But none of this makes the case rock solid, it still has holes.
MCCANN: There remains no murder weapon.
CANDIOTTI: Conviction without a gun is more difficult.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That this is all based on speculation.
CANDIOTTI: Are the holes about to get larger? Attorneys argue whether jurors should hear Odin Lloyd's very last text.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are totally innocuous.
CANDIOTTI: Or are they?
CANDIOTTI: For Odin Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, everyday is a struggle.
URSULA WARD, ODIN LLOYD'S MOTHER: Hey handsome. Mommy is here to see you again. I love you. I miss you so much sweetie.
I never thought having talking to my son in the ground, you know.
CANDIOTTI: At every pre-trial hearing, she is surrounded by family hangs on every word. And after 18 months of waiting, the justice she seeks may finally be around the corner.
Hernandez' trial gets underway this month. For more than a year, Sheriff Thomas Hodgson was in charge of keeping an eye on Hernandez.
SHERIFF THOMAS HODGSON, BRISTOL COUNTY: I've talked to him at night. There's a warmth within this person.
CANDIOTTI: What went wrong?
HODGSON: Learned behaviors in the environment that people grow up and have an incredible influence on who we become.
CANDIOTTI: Sheriff Thomas Hodgson believes in modifying behavior behind bars. He says inmate number 174954 reads the bible. And another book he suggested.
HODGSON: I got him reading "Tuesdays with Morrie."
CANDIOTTI: It examines how to create a centered meaningful life.
HODGSON: He was clearly moved by the book. He calls his mother and told her she did read it.
CANDIOTTI: The Sheriff tells Hernandez to find his center by turning to his childhood anchor, his late dad.
HODGSON: You've never be able to get back to that place that you've felt comfortable and safe and that's only going to happen if you go back. Talk to your father. Go back to your cell and talk to your father.
CANDIOTTI: What did he think about that advice?
HODGSON: When I'd see him very so often, he needs to do what you ask him. No, but I'm getting there.
KEVIN FAULK: It's not as bad now that I'm not playing.
CANDIOTTI: Retired patriot running back Kevin Faulk isn't given up on his ex-teammate.
FAULK: I want to tell him that he has somebody on his side who's praying for.
CANDIOTTI: Prosecutors are saying that he orchestrated the execution of someone.
FAULK: They're not going to make me believe that he's a monster because you used those type of words.
CANDIOTTI: Not even two more murder charges in the so-called spilled drink case have changed Faulk's opinion of the player he knew.
FAULK: Get a question all the time. Do you think your boy did it? No, I don't want him to have done it, no. So, if you want me to say, no, no I don't think he did. At the same time, anybody can be pushed and do something drastic like that if they push you to that point.
CANDIOTTI: Faulk's friend is about to go on the trial for the murder of Odin Lloyd. The first of two murder trials expected to revolve around electronic evidence including data from Hernandez's cellphone. His lawyers had tried but failed to get it excluded from trial. Why was the defense so intend on getting Hernandez's text thrown out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because the text imply at least that Aaron Hernandez was going to do something to Odin Lloyd.
CANDIOTTI: Among the text evidence that will be blocked from trial, the message Odin Lloyd sends his sister minutes before his death saying he is with NFL just so you know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thoroughly innocuous message. It doesn't suggest, it doesn't indicate fear. It doesn't indicate a cry for help.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look what finds and it become (inaudible) is not and its burden of showing by pondering to the evidence that the statement was made when the victim was actually under the belief of eminent death.
CANDIOTTI: The judge rules its hearsay and the jury won't hear it.
The jury also won't hear Alexander Bradley's claim that Aaron Hernandez shot him in the face or any information about the Boston double murders, those rulings major victories for the defense. Among the people who may testify Patriot Coach Bill Belichick, Owner Robert Kraft and Hernandez's college teammate, Miami Dolphin Center, Mike Pouncey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All rise.
CANDIOTTI: It's a trial Hernandez's lawyers promise will end with their client's acquittal.
CHARLES RANKIN, HERNANDEZ'S ATTORNEY: We're confident that Aaron is going to be exonerated and that when witnesses have to testify that a jury of Aaron's peers will find that he is not guilty and it fact that no part in the killing of Odin Lloyd.
CANDIOTTI: Hernandez's attorneys and mother declined a request for interviews.
MCCANN: I think the odds are Hernandez will be convicted but it is not a slam dunk case. There is still no gun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) gone unto him.
CANDIOTTI: Days after what would have been Odin Lloyd's 28th birthday, family and friends come together for the unveiling of number 53's headstone.
WARD: I don't know if anything can really hear me right now. He was the love of my life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In loving memory of Odin Lloyd, our son, our brother, amen.
CANDIOTTI: And you still talk to him?
CANDIOTTI: What do you say?
SWEET: My son. I love him, miss him.
HODGE: It doesn't matter what the outcome is we still lose at the end of the day even if you get justice. Do you really come out a winner? I don't think so.
CANDIOTTI: Do you think there's a chance the Aaron Hernandez maybe found not guilty?
BRANCH: That's my biggest fear, because it always takes is one hearing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love you Odin.