The 4-year-old girl cried that she missed her father, cried that she wanted to see
him. And so her mother scooped her up and brought her here on Wednesday
afternoon, to Room 906 of the Suffolk County Courthouse for a brief and emotional
and likely confusing visit.

Just before 4 o’clock, just before the end of another day of jury deliberation without
a verdict, in walked Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, carrying in her arms the daughter
she shares with Aaron Hernandez. Shayanna and Aaron aren’t married, but she
recently took his name anyway. It was the first time their daughter has come to court
to see her dad.

Hernandez, the former New England Patriots star, is already a convicted killer,
serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for the 2013 murder of
Odin Lloyd in North Attleborough, Massachusetts. He is currently awaiting a jury
verdict on charges that he killed Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in a 2012
Boston drive-by shooting.

A day of deliberations without a verdict ends with a short proceeding, with all parties
present. There the jury informs the judge that it needs to recess until the following
morning. It lasts but a few minutes.

As Hernandez was brought from a holding cell downstairs into the courtroom, his
head snapped up at the unexpected vision of his daughter. He beamed a smile, his
entire face lighting up. So, too, did his daughter’s. They were separated by a few
rows of benches, a courtroom bar and, of course, a pack of officers, but in that
fleeting moment, they were daddy and daughter. After being told to take his seat at
the defense table, Hernandez turned back four times and smiled, offering a little
wave.

Aaron Hernandez blows his daughter a kiss in court on Wednesday. (AP)
Aaron Hernandez blows his daughter a kiss in court on Wednesday. (AP)
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A few minutes later, after the jury had departed for the day, Hernandez rose again
and was ushered out by officers. Three times he blew kisses to his daughter. She
returned the wave and then teared up a bit.

It was … heartbreaking.

Heartbreaking because here was an loving little girl who simply wanted to be with her
dad. Heartbreaking because here was an adoring child whose relationship with him
is, and always will be, housed by court officers and prison bars. Heartbreaking
because here was an innocent child who can’t possibly grasp it all. (Shayanna would
grant permission to a pool photographer and cameraman to take pictures and film
her daughter.)

Heartbreaking, too, because of the people sitting in the two rows in front of Jenkins-
Hernandez.

Each and every day the families and friends of Abreu and Furtado come here in an
attempt to find closure for their worst nightmare. They are blue-collar immigrants,
arriving from Cape Verde off the West African coast. They came in pursuit of the
American Dream only to have it rocked one tragic night in the Theatre District where
either Hernandez shot one of their boys in the head and one of them in the chest, or
at least rode shotgun when his buddy Alexander Bradley pulled the trigger before
helping cover up the act.

Abreu and Furtado were young men with drive in search of a future. They came and
worked as cleaners in the high-rise offices of Boston, long hours and little glamor, a
far cry from Hernandez’s NFL world. They stepped out late on a Sunday, their one
night off, only to spend about nine minutes in the same half-empty nightclub as
Hernandez and Bradley.

There, prosecutors allege, a dancing Abreu bumped into Hernandez, splashing a bit
of his drink. Enraged at that act and the fact the Cape Verdean didn’t recognize the
Patriot and apologize profusely enough, Hernandez hunted them down later,
allegedly ambushing them as they sat innocently idling at a red light.

Heartbreaking? Oh so heartbreaking because the chance for these two families to
see Daniel and Safiro again under any circumstance – to see them smile, to see
them beam, to see them light up in love – would be a gift to cherish.
Aaron Hernandez trial:
Heartbreaking scene as
4-year-old daughter
shows up to court