Aaron Hernandez verdict: 5 things to know about the jury

Story highlights

  • Female juror: "Everyone's life changed because of this"
  • The jurors said they didn't learn of the other charges against Hernandez until after the verdict
  • For these jurors, the system worked: It's "designed to be fair to both sides"
Watch "Downward Spiral: Inside the Case against Aaron Hernandez" tonight at 9 ET.

(CNN)From late January, when New England was living through one of its bleakest and snowiest winters, to a warm and sunny afternoon in April, the jurors in the first-degree murder trial of former NFL star Aaron Hernandez have considered how a promising young athlete who earned millions came to take the life of his onetime friend and future brother-in-law, Odin Lloyd.

The jury of seven women and five men listened to more than 130 witnesses and reviewed more than 400 pieces of evidence over the months-long trial. On Wednesday, they convicted Hernandez, who was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, after deliberating more than 35 hours over parts of seven days.
After the verdict, jurors agreed to meet with reporters, at times laughing nervously while shedding light on what some described as the grueling deliberation process.
    Here are five things to know about what they said:

    The deliberations

    While declining to discuss specifics of what happened in the jury room, jurors said they came away satisfied with their decision.
    "It's a very big decision to make, and every one of us ... made sure we came to the best conclusion," one juror told reporters.
    At one point on Monday, jurors asked Judge Susan Garsh to allow smoking breaks, which were permitted during trial. Some observers thought this signaled weeks of deliberations.
    A male juror said some panel members had meticulously filled four to eight notebooks as they listened to testimony.
    "It was hard ... for everyone," said a woman on the jury. "Everyone's life changed because of this."
    Asked to elaborate, she told a reporter, "I've been here for as long as you have."
    "It's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," she said later about serving on the jury. "Absolutely, by far."

    Their thoughts about Aaron Hernandez

    Watch Aaron Hernandez jury deliver guilty verdict
    Watch Aaron Hernandez jury deliver guilty verdict

      JUST WATCHED

      Watch Aaron Hernandez jury deliver guilty verdict

    MUST WATCH

    Watch Aaron Hernandez jury deliver guilty verdict 02:43
    Asked whether they would say anything to Hernandez, one of the women on the panel said simply, "Nothing." Others nodded in apparent agreement.
    Do they have any feelings about the 25-year-old former star?
    "For me, Judge Garsh said, 'Keep your mind suspended,' " said a female juror. "We went in there every day with open minds. We listened to the evidence. We heard what they had to say. We got to go into a room and see and touch and feel all the evidence and that's when we came to our conclusion."
    Did they know anything about Hernandez or the case before the trial?
    One juror responded: "Nothing."
    "Very little," said another.
    About six jurors raised their hands when asked who among them was a New England Patriots fan.

    Hernandez's other cases

    The jurors said they found out about Hernandez's other legal woes from Garsh only after they reached a verdict.
    Hernandez potentially faces three more trials, one criminal and two civil actions.
    Next up is another murder trial in which he is accused of killing two men and wounding another person near a Boston nightclub in July 2012.
    Prosecutors have said Hernandez fatally shot Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado when he fired into their 2003 BMW. Another passenger was wounded and two others were uninjured.
    Hernandez pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.
    The families of de Abreu and Furtado filed civil suits against Hernandez, and a judge froze his $5 million in assets, pending the outcome of the double-murder trial. The freeze includes the disputed $3.3 million signing bonus payment Hernandez claims he is owed by the New England Patriots.
    Hernandez is also being sued by a man who claims Hernandez shot him while they were in a limousine in Miami in February 2013.
    Alexander Bradley claims Hernandez wounded him after the two got into a fight at a Miami strip club.
    "It's amazing a lot of the information we learned today," a female juror said Wednesday. "I think we can all say we made the right decision."

    Emotional and significant trial moments

    Some jurors admitted to not knowing who Patriots owner Robert Kraft was when he took the stand at the trial.
    But they agreed that Kraft's testimony was crucial. Kraft testified that Hernandez proclaimed his innocence to him and told the team owner that "he hoped that the time of the murder ... came out because I believe he said he was in a club."
    "To this day -- we just went through a three-month trial, and this is now two years later -- we still don't know the exact time of Odin's murder," a male juror said. "So I don't know how Aaron would have had that information two years ago."
    Another juror was struck by the emotional testimony of Lloyd's family and friends.
    "For me, it was in the beginning -- the pictures," a woman said of autopsy photos of Lloyd's bullet-riddled body. "You're told to be unemotional and to sit there and hold back tears ... (That) was hard."
    One man said his time on the case made him "appreciate how quickly life can end and how fleeting it can be."
    And that the justice system can work.
    "The system is designed to be fair to both sides," he said. "In fairness, you can't rush."
    The jurors did not find credible the defense team's contention that Hernandez's co-defendants -- Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz -- carried out the murder. The two men have pleaded not guilty and will be tried separately.
    In closing arguments, defense lawyer James Sultan for the first time placed Hernandez at the murder scene.
    Sultan described Wallace and Ortiz as a pair of drug dealers known to become crazed while on PCP, as men capable of killing someone in drug-induced fits of rage.
    "Did he make all the right decisions? No," Sultan said of Hernandez. "He was a 23-year-old kid who witnessed something, committed by somebody he knew. He really didn't know what to do, so he put one foot in front of another. Keep in mind, he's not charged with accessory after the fact. ... He's charged with murder ... and that he did not do."
    "We were all shocked about that," a female juror told reporters Wednesday.
    "It was very surprising," said another.

    Life after the trial

    Asked about post-trial fame or the possibility of book deals for their role in the sensational case, a female juror smiled.
    "None of us wanted to come into this room," she told the reporters gathered around her.
    The jurors said they expected to sleep peacefully Wednesday night.
    "After a beverage," one of them added.
    Asked whether they were leaving the experience as friends, they all seemed to say, "Yes."