BOSTON - Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez gunned down two men he did not know in their car because one of them bumped into him while dancing at a Boston nightclub, spilling his drink, prosecutors said in court Wednesday.
Hernandez pleaded not guilty in at the Suffolk Superior Court hearing to seven charges in the 2012 shooting that killed Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. A third man was wounded.
Hernandez's attorney, Charles Rankin, objected, saying the prosecutor's account of the shooting was an attempt to poison the jury pool. Clerk Magistrate Gary Wilson dismissed the objection.
Prosecutor Patrick Haggan said that in the months leading up the shooting, Hernandez had become increasingly convinced that people "had been testing, trying or otherwise disrespecting him when he frequented nightclubs in the area."
Haggan told the court Hernandez and a friend drove from Connecticut to Boston that night to go to a nightclub called Cure. They were standing at the edge of the dance floor when de Abreu accidentally bumped into Hernandez, smiled at him and did not apologize, according to prosecutors.
Haggan said Hernandez became agitated and told his friend that de Abreu had deliberately bumped him, though neither the victims nor club staff knew Hernandez was upset.
Hernandez and his friend left and went to another club, where Hernandez was convinced de Abreu and his friends had followed them, according to Haggan. The prosecutor said there was no evidence the other men ever left Cure.
Haggan said Hernandez drove around until he saw de Abreu and Furtado and their friends going to their car and followed them, pulling up alongside them as they stopped at a red light and opening fire.
Hernandez leaned out the driver's side, said "Yo, what's up now," followed by a racial slur, then fired at least five shots into the car, killing de Abreu and Furtado, Haggan said.
Hernandez, 24, already faces charges in the 2013 slaying of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. He was released by the Patriots last summer after his arrest in Lloyd's shooting death.
Lloyd's body was found in an industrial area near Hernandez's home in North Attleborough. Lloyd was dating a sister of Hernandez's fiancee.
Hernandez's lawyers have said he is looking forward to proving his innocence.