Aaron Hernandez Sentenced to Life After Murder Conviction

Former New England Patriots player was found guilty of first-degree murder.

ByABC News
April 15, 2015, 10:29 PM

— -- Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez has been found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Hernandez, 25, was charged with killing Odin Lloyd, 27, on June 17, 2013. Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee, was found shot to death in an abandoned industrial yard.

In addition to the murder charge, Hernandez was found guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition. As the verdict was read against him this morning, Hernandez sat down. His mother, Terri Hernandez, and fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, burst into tears after the football player was found guilty. Jenkins had testified, with immunity, for the prosecution.

Lloyd’s mother, seated among relatives, also sobbed in the courtroom.

After the sentencing hearing, state Assistant District Attorney William McCauley told reporters the verdict was "a relief."

"It was quite a relief," McCauley, the lead prosecutor, said. "We’re the front person and we have so many people counting on us to bring about a successful result."

Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn said Hernandez's position as a professional football player affected the attention given to the trial, but insisted he received a fair one.

"In the end, he was a man who committed a serious murder and was convicted of that with a jury of his peers," Quinn told reporters.

During sentencing hearing, Lloyd's mother and sister were among the relatives who spoke before the judge.

"Odin was the first best gift I ever received,” Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, told the court. “I thank God every second and every day of my son's life that I spent with him.”

Ward also said she forgave those responsible for her son's death.

"I forgive the hands of the people that had a hand in my son's murder, either before or after," she said.

Lloyd's sister Olivia Thibou said the time after her brother's death feels "like a bad dream."

"These last couple of years have been the hardest time of our lives," Thibou told the court." At the age of 25, I was asked to write my brother’s eulogy. That's the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life."

Because of the first-degree murder conviction, Hernandez was automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jurors decided on the guilty verdict after they deliberated for nearly 36 hours.

Prosecutors had alleged that Hernandez and two other men picked up Lloyd from his house and brought him to the industrial park near the Patriots' Gillette Stadium, about a mile from Hernandez's home.

Hernandez had pleaded not guilty.

Jurors heard testimony from 135 witnesses during the nine week trial, including Patriots' owner Robert Kraft. At the time of the murder, Hernandez had a $40 million contract with the New England Patriots.

Hernandez was recently indicted for the 2012 drive-by shooting deaths of two men outside a Boston nightclub. He has pleaded not guilty.

ABC News' Aaron Katersky has contributed to this report.