Last week, Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh barred the prosecutor from introducing certain “bad acts” in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial
Hernandez has been charged with the murder of Odin Llyold. The trial is scheduled to begin in the Bristol Superior Court in January 2015. Hernandez has also been charged in the double-murder of Safiro Furtado and Daniel Abreu. Those crimes occurred in July 2012. Further, the prosecutor sought to introduce evidence of a shooting that occurred in Florida in 2007. Hernandez has never been charged relating to the Florida shooting.
The prosecutor sought to admit these incidents as “prior bad acts” during the murder trial of Hernandez in the Odin Llyold muder. In Massachusetts, “prior bad acts,” charged or uncharged are inadmissible to prove that a defendant has a propensity to commit a crime. In some circumstances, a court may allow “prior bad act” evidence for some other purpose. Possible admissible purposes would be to prove “intent, motive, identity, pattern of operation, or common scheme.”
Often, the prosecutor will argue the “bad act” evidence is admissible for one of these purposes. The Judge will ultimately decide if the purpose of the evidence satisfies on of these reasons and also that the evidence is relevant. Additionally, the court must conclude, that if the “prior bad act” evidence is relevant, the probative value of the evidence is not substantially outweighed by the prejudice to the defendant.
The layperson may question the legal reasoning surrounding “prior bad act” evidence. The purpose of the rules surrounding admission of “prior bad act” evidence is that a fair trial is based on the jury rendering its’ verdict on the evidence in the case being tried. The question in this case is whether the government has proven the elements of first degree murder of Odin Llyold.”
The Judge’s ruling is not only a victory for Aaron Hernandez in this case, it is a victory for the fundamental fairness of the Jury Trial system in Massachusetts.
MASSACHUSETTS CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER
Boston, MA Criminal Defense Attorney Jeff Miller has represented individuals charged with all types of criminal offenses. CLICK HERE to read about some representative cases defended by Attorney Miller. If you have been charged with a crime in Massachusetts, contact Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney Jeff Miller to schedule an appointment at 617-482-5799.