BOSTON, April 15 (UPI) -- Former New England Patriots tight end end, Aaron Hernandez, was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday after being found guilty of first-degree murder in the 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd.
The jury of five men and seven women deliberated for 35 hours before announcing the guilty verdict. A short time later, the judge sentenced him to life without the possibility of parole.
Hernandez, 25, was accused of shooting Lloyd, a 27-year-old landscaper and semi-pro football player, in June 2013. Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee, was shot six times. Hernandez pleaded not guilty.
During the sentencing, Lloyd's sister and mother addressed the court, saying they are devastated by their loss.
"Odin was my only son," Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, said. "The day I laid my son to rest, I felt like I wanted to go into the hole with my son, Odin."
"I will never get to have grandchildren from my son," she said. "I will never get to dance at his wedding. I will never again get to hear him say, 'Ma, you're beautiful, I love you.' "
After the trial, the 12 jurors said the evidence was "compelling," adding the prosecution effectively outlined the case.
"We still don't know the exact time of Lloyd's murder, so how could Aaron know he was at the club when (Lloyd) was killed?" one juror said.
"I think we couldn't unanimously conclude that there was evidence of premeditation, but we did agree it was extreme atrocity," another juror said.
Prosecutors said Hernandez and two other men, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, drove Lloyd to an industrial park and shot him about 3:25 a.m. Ortiz and Wallace both pleaded not guilty and face separate trials.
Prosecutors never detailed a clear motive in the case, only pointing to witness testimony that indicated Hernandez appeared angry at Lloyd a few nights before the murder and Hernandez had remarked Lloyd acted "rude" at one point. Although the murder weapon was never recovered, prosecutors theorized that Hernandez told his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, to get rid of it before Lloyd's body was found. She later testified that Hernandez had her remove, from their basement basement, a heavy box that smelled like marijuana. She said she couldn't remember where she dumped it.
During the trial, the jury heard testimony from 135 witnesses -- 132 called by the prosecution -- in the 10-week case.
In closing statements, Hernandez's attorney admitted Hernandez was present when Lloyd was shot and killed but said he was not the shooter. Defense attorneys continually cited the prosecution's lack of hard evidence that conclusively proved Hernandez shot Lloyd.
"He was a 23-year-old kid, who witnessed something, a shocking killing committed by someone he knew," Hernandez's lawyer James Sultan said in his closing statement. "He didn't know what to do."
In addition to the murder conviction, Hernandez was found guilty of two weapons charges. Hernandez still faces two murder charges in connection to a Boston drive-by shooting in 2012.
NFL players, including his former Patriots and University of Florida teammates, reacted to the verdict and sentencing Wednesday afternoon:
Aaron Hernandez is trying to hold it together right now. It's gone hurt when he goes back to his cell. I know the feeling.— Maurice Clarett (@ReeseClarett13) April 15, 2015
IM CONFUSED ABOUT THE JUSTICE SYSTEM THESE DAYS !!!— BrandonSpikes51 (@BrandonSpikes51) April 15, 2015
Speechless.— Joe Haden (@joehaden23) April 15, 2015