Defense lawyer Jose Baez takes on former NFL star Aaron Hernandez's newest murder case
Baez splashed into the national spotlight five years ago with acquittal of accused child killer Casey Anthony
A top Florida lawyer who stunned the nation when he won a murder acquittal for a mother accused of killing her toddler has taken on another high-profile, high-hurdle case.
Jose Baez announced Wednesday he was defending former New England Patriot standout Aaron Hernandez in his upcoming double-murder trial.
Baez, best known for his defense of Casey Anthony, said he realized Hernandez was the subject of much speculation in the court of public opinion – after being indicted in three homicides – but asked the public to keep an open mind “and let the facts unfold in a court of law.”
“I have fully committed myself to ensuring a fair and just trial for Mr. Hernandez,” Baez said in a statement. “To accomplish this, I have assembled the best legal team in the country to serve as co-counsel.”
The Miami lawyer said he had recruited Harvard law professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., top defense trial lawyer Alex Spiro and Linda Kenney Baden, an expert in forensic science.
Hernandez faces bevy of court cases, so far 0-1
Hernandez, 26, who already was convicted in 2015 of a murder in Massachusetts, is charged with shooting to death two men in 2012 outside a Boston nightclub because one had had caused him to spill his drink, prosecutors contend.
Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado were shot as they sat in their BMW. Hernandez is also charged with shooting a witness to the killing while the two were vacationing in Florida at a Super Bowl Party in 2013. Hernandez pleaded not guilty to the witness shooting last year.
Prosecutors said Hernandez also wounded another passenger when he killed de Abreu and Furtado. Two others passengers were uninjured, authorities said.
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 trial. The freeze includes a disputed $3.3 million signing bonus payment Hernandez says he is owed by the New England Patriots.
In April 2015, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after being convicted of murdering his onetime friend and future brother-in-law, Odin Lloyd, in June 2013.
Baez used to the public spotlight
Baez earned a national reputation in 2011, when Anthony was found not guilty of first-degree murder and the other most serious charges against her in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.
Caylee was last seen June 16, 2008, but was not reported missing until July 15, 2008, when Casey Anthony’s mother, Cindy Anthony, tracked her daughter down and demanded answers regarding Caylee’s whereabouts.
Eventually confronted by her family, Casey Anthony maintained a nanny had kidnapped Caylee.
But prosecutors alleged Casey Anthony used chloroform to render her daughter unconscious and then duct-taped her mouth and nose to suffocate her. They alleged that she put the child’s body in the trunk of her car for a few days before disposing of it. Caylee’s skeletal remains were discovered December 11, 2008, by former Orange County meter reader Roy Kronk.
Casey Anthony’s defense attorneys maintained Caylee was not murdered. They said the child drowned in the Anthony’s above-ground pool on July 16, and that Casey Anthony and her father, George Anthony, panicked upon finding her there and covered up the death. George Anthony denied that in his testimony.
The jury convicted Casey Anthony on four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to law enforcement officers. Two of those convictions were later overturned on appeal.