After seven days of deliberation, a jury has found former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Odin Lloyd. The Boston Herald reports that means Hernandez, 25, will spend the rest of his life in prison, without the possibility of parole. The conviction automatically triggers an appeal to Massachusetts' highest court. Hernandez's mother, Terri, and his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, cried and gasped when they heard the verdict. Jenkins wept on Terri Hernandez's shoulder. Hernandez—who had a $40 million contract with the Patriots at the time of the murder—later mouthed to them: "Be strong. Be strong." Jurors could have acquitted Hernandez or found him guilty of second-degree murder, which would have given him the possibility of release after 15 years.
Hernandez's lawyer acknowledged during closing arguments that Hernandez was there when Lloyd was killed, the AP reports. The Herald notes that prosecutors didn't need to prove that Hernandez was the one who personally killed Lloyd, who was shot six times in an industrial park near Hernandez's home, but had to show that he wanted it to occur; they argued he planned the murder and helped cover it up. The AP notes that prosecutors never offered a motive beyond saying Hernandez appeared angry with Lloyd at a nightclub two nights before the killing. Prosecutors have suggested Lloyd may have been killed because he knew too much about Hernandez's alleged involvement in a deadly 2012 drive-by shooting that killed two in Boston. But they were not allowed to tell the jury that because the judge said it was speculation. Hernandez will face double murder charges next.