OPINION

Opinion: Putting Aaron Hernandez's fiancee on the stand is extremely risky

Aaron Hernandez appears at Fall River Superior Court Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014 in Fall River, Mass.  Hernandez’s attorneys are arguing a motion to suppress evidence in his murder trial. They want to suppress evidence from a cell phone they say was illegally seized and a police interrogation they call unlawful. Hernandez is awaiting trial in the 2013 killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd.  (AP Photo/The Boston Herald, Ted Fitzgerald, Pool)

Aaron Hernandez appears at Fall River Superior Court Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014 in Fall River, Mass. Hernandez’s attorneys are arguing a motion to suppress evidence in his murder trial. They want to suppress evidence from a cell phone they say was illegally seized and a police interrogation they call unlawful. Hernandez is awaiting trial in the 2013 killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd. (AP Photo/The Boston Herald, Ted Fitzgerald, Pool)  (AP2014)

The Aaron Hernandez murder trial began last week and it already appears that prosecutors are in an uphill battle. One reason: The .45-caliber Glock pistol that Hernandez allegedly shot five times into Odin L. Lloyd on June 13, 2013, has yet to be found.

Without a body and a murder weapon, prosecutors lack key evidence to help them reach their “beyond a reasonable doubt” burden.

Hernandez’s fiancee and mother of his daughter, Shayanna Jenkins, 25, may be the missing link between the gun and Hernandez. The prosecutors’ theory is that she, upon the request of Hernandez, threw away a box containing the gun.

Putting Jenkins on the stand, who is very much still openly engaged to Hernandez, who allegedly lied under oath in the past, and who allegedly destroyed evidence for him, is a very risky move.

- Tamara Holder

Now, prosecutors need Jenkins to tell that to the jury.

The only problem? Jenkins is allegedly a compulsive liar. She’s facing criminal charges of her own: perjury for lying under oath to the grand jury – apparently 29 times – about helping her fiance clean up his mess.

A few weeks before the trial started, prosecutors offered to give Jenkins immunity if she testified against Hernandez. Earlier this week, Bristol Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh granted the request.

Most likely, over the course of 18 months, Jenkins said to herself, “If I’m found guilty, I will be sent to prison. I’ll lose my daughter. I’ll be a convicted felon for life.” Immunity isn’t offered to every non-compliant witness. Had Jenkins not been willing to work with prosecutors, they surely wouldn’t have extended the offer.

This immunity deal shows that prosecutors desperately need her to flip on Hernandez. But in an interesting twist, Jenkins has remained in the courtroom, even after being granted immunity. She wears her engagement ring, waits at the elevator for Hernandez, and he mouths “I love you” when he sees her.

With immunity, Jenkins cannot invoke her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Most likely, prosecutors need Jenkins because they don’t believe the other witnesses and evidence are enough to score a murder conviction.

Regardless, putting Jenkins on the stand is risky. Hernandez’s defense attorneys may make her look like a compulsive liar. "You lied to the grand jury didn't you?" "And you were under oath not to lie, right?" “You were charged with perjury, weren't you?” “You agreed to help the prosecution for your own selfish reasons because you don’t want to go to prison, right?” “And they offered you immunity to lie again, right?” "So you lied under oath before but now you want the jury to believe you this time, correct?" This tactic may convince the jury not to believe a single thing Jenkins says.

Or, defense attorneys could take a different approach, getting her to stand by her prior statements in an effort to convince the jury that the prosecution gave Jenkins immunity for its own selfish reasons. The problem with this approach, however, is that Jenkins could be charged with perjury again, for lying to the jury.

Either way, putting Jenkins on the stand, who is very much still openly engaged to Hernandez, who allegedly lied under oath in the past, and who allegedly destroyed evidence for him, is a very risky move.

Tamara N. Holder has been a Fox News Contributor since 2010. She is also a clemency attorney and founder of xpunged.com. She has filed hundreds of petitions to expunge/seal criminal records, and petitions for clemency/pardon.

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