BOSTON — Prosecutors say it was an inadvertent bump on a crowded dance floor at a Boston night club two summers ago that triggered the drive-by shooting deaths of two Cape Verdean immigrants a few hours after the incident.
According to Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley it was a senseless act which occurs far too often.
But the alleged shooter this time was former New England Patriots Pro Bowl tight end Aaron Hernandez.
Hernandez was arraigned Wednesday at a packed and quiet Suffolk County (Mass.) District court room on two counts of first degree murder, three counts of armed assault to attempt murder and single counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and unlawful possession of a firearm.
To all of those charges, Hernandez, dressed in a coat and tie while wearing handcuffs, pleaded a steady "not guilty.''
The drama of the afternoon, came in small bursts.
With the relatives — some of them quietly weeping — of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado sitting in Courtroom 906, watching, Suffolk County First Assistant District Attorney Patrick Haggan laid out the framework of the evidence against Hernandez in a pair of murders, which Conley later said were "as brutal as they were senseless.''
"They didn't deserve this,'' said Conley after the arraignment. "They never saw this coming.''
Haggan portrayed Hernandez as someone who thought people were "testing, trying or otherwise disrespecting him when he frequented night clubs in the area."
It was that belief, according to Haggan, that prompted Hernandez to put a .38 caliber revolver in the engine block of a vehicle he had been given as a promotional lease by a Rhode Island car dealer. It was the vehicle Hernandez and a friend drove to the Cure night club in Boston on July 15, 2012.
On the same night, de Abreu and Furtado and some of their friends were also looking for a good time.
The two groups allegedly arrived within a few minutes of each other, shortly after midnight.
When de Abreu, who prosecutors claim had no idea who Hernandez was, bumped into the Patriots star on the dance floor, de Abreu merely smiled but didn't apologize. Hernandez fumed.
According to Haggan's timeline of the night, the friend who had arrived with Hernandez tried to calm the Patriot star down as they left the club shortly after 2 a.m. ET.
Surveillance video outside the club shows Hernandez pacing back and forth on the sidewalk as his friend tried to calm him down, Haggan said. Hernandez and his friend then crossed the street to another nightclub, where Hernandez thought he saw de Abreu and his friends come in, according to Haggan.
In fact, de Abreu and his friends had not left the Cure.
Haggan said Hernandez later drove around with his friend until he saw de Abreu, Furtado and others going to their car, then followed them and pulled up alongside their car at a red light.
"At this time, the victims were completely unaware there was any problem with the defendant," Haggan said.
Hernandez allegedly rolled down his window and fired five shots, killing de Abreu and Furtado, and wounding a third man.
Haggan said Hernandez accompanied the shots with "Yo, what's up now'' and a racial slur, after which he drove away.
"I think I got one in the head and one in the chest,'' Hernandez allegedly told his friend in the car as they drove back to Hartford, Conn., where they started their journey a few hours earlier.
Hernandez, who has been held without bail since last June for the shooting death of a semi pro football player Odin Lloyd, became a person of interest in the de Abreu and Furtado murders when investigators found the Toyota 4-Runner SUV they believe was on a surveillance tape outside the Cure on the night of the murders. The SUV had been impounded by authorities during the Lloyd investigation after it had been found in the garage of a relative of Hernandez's.
Suffolk prosecutors said they have recovered the gun from the car of an associate of Hernandez and a ballistic test of the weapon reveals a reasonable certainty it was the weapon the double homicide.
After the prosecution was finished, Hernandez's defensive attorney Charles Rankin bitterly complained to Magistrate Gary Wilson about the court letting the prosecution put on a "show" for the media. Ranklin claimed it was unnecessary and tainted the potential jury pool. Wilson responded that he's overseen over 1,900 arraignments and nothing was uncommon about Wednesday's hearing.
Hernandez will continue to be held without bail. He is due back in court June 24 for a scheduling hearing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.