The N.F.L. player Aaron Hernandez, who was charged with murder Wednesday, is also being investigated in connection with a double homicide in Boston in 2012, according to two law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.
Hernandez helped lead the Patriots to the Super Bowl two seasons ago.
It was not clear when investigators began to look at Hernandez in connection with the double killing or what they believe his involvement may be.
Hernandez, 23, was charged with murder and five gun-related offenses in Attleboro District Court in Massachusetts on Wednesday in connection with the murder of Odin Lloyd, 27, whose body was found in a North Attleborough, Mass., industrial park June 17. Hernandez pleaded not guilty and was held without bail. On the murder charge, he faces a life sentence without parole.
One official said investigators were exploring a possible connection between the two cases that could explain a possible motive for the Lloyd killing.
The person said investigators were examining the possibility that Lloyd was killed because he had information about Hernandez’s suspected involvement in the 2012 double homicide, but cautioned that that was somewhat speculative at this point.
There are a number of other life in prison situations where the lack of a death penalty is a problem. I often cite the obscure Sandra Bullock movie Murder by Numbers, in which she plays a detective interrogating an updated Leopold and Loeb pair of thrill killers (Ryan Gosling and Michael Pitt). It was a classic Prisoners' Dilemma game theory situation in which the two killers have a good chance of walking if they keep their mouths shut. (Confessions are useful not just in and of themselves, but that they help the cops recover a lot of physical evidence, as well.)
But why should one defect on the other if the punishments for both are life in prison? The threat of the death penalty gives an incentive to one to rat out the other: He pulled the trigger! I was just along for the ride. Give him the death penalty!
Keep in mind, however, that this situation increases the chances of the non-trigger puller getting the death penalty because the trigger-puller defects first.
P.S., I'm always fascinated by the disconnect between public policy discourse and the rest of everything. For example, the problem of "witness-murdering" has been a minor obsession for me since the Brown's Chicken Massacre in suburban Chicago in 1993, in which robbers at a fast food joint got away with their crime for about decade by the expedient of murdering all seven worker-witnesses. But, it's not as if the subject of witness-murder is restricted to the crime blotter: it's a major plot device in movies, TV shows, and detective novels. How many witnesses got murdered or threatened with murder on The Sopranos or The Wire? That was the main theme of the best episodes of Miami Vice a generation ago: just how ruthless would the heroes be in badgering a witness into risking his life by wearing a wire?
Obviously, at certain points in the past, judges and legislators thought hard about witness-murdering. But, at some point, the topic's innate relationship to the death penalty debate just got forgotten. The debate has ground on ever since in well-worn grooves without any thought of this topic that is omnipresent in our fictional worlds. It's a little bit like how the relationship between affirmative action and immigration simply doesn't register on 98% of the people who want to argue about affirmative action.