Former New England Patriot's football player Aaron Hernandez may attempt to introduce controversial evidence about drug use into his upcoming murder trial. The professional athlete is mounting a criminal defense against two first-degree murder charges, but reports show that his legal team may seek to establish that Hernandez' drug use caused psychological impacts that compromised his judgment. Hernandez' team of attorneys have said that he was smoking up to an ounce of marijuana per day at the time of the murders, which may lead to reasonable doubt if a major psychological effect can be demonstrated.
The football player is already serving a life sentence in for his role in the death of his marijuana supplier. This upcoming legal process will revolve around his involvement in a drive-by shooting that left two other people dead in New York in 2012. Reports show that prosecutors may rely heavily on circumstantial evidence and less-reliable witnesses, which means that the marijuana information could play a bigger role in this criminal trial.
Experts say that a defendant's drug use can be used to demonstrate "diminished capacity," or a lower capability of making decisions, in connection with criminal activity. Although this defense may not exonerate the victim, it can lower the severity of the alleged crime or provide important context for jurors in such a case. This approach can be used in connection with domestic violence, robbery, juvenile crimes, and a variety of other situations.
Only a qualified attorney can help a defendant decide whether to use a drug-related defense in a criminal trial. These experts provide the key information that defendants need to learn more about their legal rights and options in court. Defendants have the responsibility to thoroughly consider all aspects of their criminal defense before making such an important choice.
Source: New York Post, "Aaron Hernandez might use weed as defense in double murder trial," Joshua Rhett Miller, Feb. 23, 2017