Is it possible that part of Aaron Hernandez's extensive tattoo collection connects him to the deaths of two men and the non-fatal shooting of one other man? Suffolk County prosecutors seem to think so, and thanks to a recent ruling they will be able to make that argument in court.
Hernandez, the former New England Patriot tight end, is already serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd and is now scheduled to go to trial for the 2012 killings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. Hernandez is also facing charges in the non-fatal shooting of Alexander Bradley in what law enforcement believe was an attempt to silence Bradley due to his knowledge of the 2012 killings.
The prosecution contends that Hernandez went to a Hermosa Beach tattoo shop in the spring of 2013 and received two different tattoos linking him to the crimes, according to The Boston Globe. The first of these tattoos is of a revolver — the same type of gun used in the 2012 murders — with the words "God Forgives" alongside it.
The second tattoo in question is of a semi-automatic pistol with a spent casing flying from the chamber. Much like with the other tattoo in question, Hernandez allegedly used this type of weapon to shoot Bradley in 2013.
It is not completely unheard of for a person's tattoos to be used against them in trial, but given the incredibly high occurrence of weaponry in body art one can argue that this is quite a reach by the prosecution. If having a tattoo of weaponry was sufficient evidence to convict, dagger tattoos alone would be responsible for a prison population bordering on the tens of millions. But given the specificity of Hernandez's ink and the particulars of the case Suffolk Superior Court judge Jeffrey Locke ruled that the tattoos would be fair game in the trial.
"The defendant’s conduct in ordering and obtaining these tattoos could be viewed as constituting an implied admission . . . or as evidence reflecting consciousness of guilt,’’ Locke wrote. “As such, the probative value of the evidence is not outweighed by any risk of unfair prejudice . . . and therefore is admissible."
The Hernandez case is scheduled to go to trial in February. It will be interesting to see how the prosecution ends up using the tattoos in their case. While there have been previous cases that have used tattoos as evidence, this is one of the most high profile instances we can recall, and it will likely set a precedent for other cases in the future.