Aaron Hernandez Facing Wrongful Death Civil Lawsuits from 2012 Shooting

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2014

NORTH ATTLEBORO, MA - AUGUST 22: Aaron Hernandez sits in the courtroom of the Attleboro District Court during his hearing on August 22, 2013 in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. Former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez has been indicted on a first-degree murder charge for the death of Odin Lloyd. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has been sued by the families of the victims of a double murder in 2012, per Fox 25 in Boston:

The suits were filed Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court by family members of two men shot and killed in Boston back in July 2012. A Suffolk County grand jury has been investigating Hernandez for the double murder, but no criminal charges have been filed yet. That could happen at any time, but for some reason the victim's families did not want to wait.

One of the lawsuits was filed by the brother of Daniel DeAbreu. The other was filed by the father of Safiro T. Furtado. Both men were gunned down in Boston's South End during a drive-by shooting. Someone pulled up next to the BMW they were in and opened fire. The plaintiffs are each seeking $6 million from Hernandez.

According to the court filings, Hernandez shot a firearm from his automobile that wounded and killed both Daniel DeAbreu and Safiro Furtado. The two also "sustained excruciating extensive conscious pain and suffering prior to death."

It's important to make the distinction between this alleged double murder and the murder of Odin Lloyd in 2013, which Hernandez has been charged with orchestrating.

The Fox report links the two in that Lloyd may have been talking about the 2012 double murder and was killed in order to keep him quiet.

Hernandez hasn't officially been charged with the double murder, but he is a suspect in the case.

Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

There are significant differences between a criminal trial and a civil trial.

In a criminal trial, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed in order for the defendant to be found guilty.

In a civil trial, the burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence.

By way of comparison, this distinction helps to explain why O.J. Simpson was found not guilty in the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman in 1995 but then two years later was ordered to pay $25 million to the families in a wrongful-death suit.

So, hypothetically, Hernandez could be cleared of the double-murder charges, in the event he is actually charged, but still have to pay damages to the families in civil court.

This is just another twist in what has become a sordid affair.