Aaron Hernandez: Fumbling for Freedom?

The Murder Scene

Aaron Hernandez, a former tight end for the New England Patriots, has been accused of orchestrating the murder of Odin Lloyd. With his friends, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, who will also both be tried separately, the three men picked Lloyd up from his Massachusetts home on June 2013. Forty miles and hours later, the victim’s body would be found at an industrial park with fatal gunshot wounds.

The Prosecutors’ Side

Although no murder weapon has been found, prosecutors claim to have footage from Hernandez’s home surveillance system of the defendant carrying a .45-caliber handgun. He was captured pulling into his driveway merely minutes after nearby workers claimed to have heard loud noises coming from the park itself.

Lt. Steven Bennett of the Massachusetts State Police had made comparisons between the footprints found at the murder scene to the shoes Hernandez was wearing. Bennett testified that the print found at the scene was in accord with those the ex-football star was wearing – size thirteen Nike Air Jordan Retro 11 Lows.

Along with potentially incriminating testimonies and circumstantial evidence, a series of texts have been revealed amongst all parties. Prosecutors have traced various texts between the three accused, both before and after Lloyd’s death. Observations were made that Hernandez was uncomfortable with the victim being aware of certain details regarding two previous murders dating back to July 2012. Investigators believe this may or may not have been his possible motive behind the murder. *Judge E. Susan Garsh banned this particular aspect of the case, ruling them prejudicial.

The Defense’s Side

Having previously signed a $40 million contract with the Patriots, Hernandez has staked his innocence, pleading not guilty. The former tight end, however, has not been alone through all of this. Several people have remained on his team, including Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft. After meeting with the defendant on several different occasions, he’s declared his lack of involvement in the case and also offered Kraft an alibi – he couldn’t have possibly ended Lloyd’s life if he were at a club at that time. *On the flip side, law enforcement noted that the time of death was not made public at this point in time.

The defense team contended that the video surveillance of Hernandez allegedly holding a gun appeared to resemble a shiny object such as an iPad. Along with this contestable piece of information, Hernandez’s attorneys shot down the analysis of the footprints and the pair of Nike Jordan shoes as well. Claims were made that there was a lack of detail and quality to compare the actual shoe and the replica Lt. Steven Bennett of the Massachusetts State Police had made.

Also testifying on his behalf, Shayanna Jenkins, Hernandez’s wife, confirmed that she was asked to get rid of a box that had the odor of marijuana. She claimed she wasn’t aware of what was inside the box, for she just wrapped it in her daughter’s clothing and threw it away in a random dumpster. Dr. David J. Greenblatt, an expert on the effects PCP has on the brain, will state his case in regards to the defense team. Greenblatt will explain the possible issues of drug use involved in the case.

Life after the Trial

Whether Hernandez remains innocent or is found guilty in the murder of Odin Lloyd, he still faces another round with the judicial system. After the current trial is settled, the family and friends of both Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado will be seeking justice in the murder of their loved ones. In July 2012, Hernandez is accused of shooting both men over a spilled drink at a club in Boston, MA.

The above article was written by Ashley Hill

What exactly is a Trust? How is it different from a Will?

Many people believe that a will is the only way to distribute their assets upon their death; however, this is not necessarily true. There is also something called a revocable living will, or a trust, which is gaining in popularity among the baby boomers. There are several reasons why trusts are being more widely considered, which we will discuss in further detail below.

What is a Trust?

A living trust (sometimes called an “inter vivos” or “revocable” trust) is a written legal document through which your assets are placed into a trust for your benefit during your lifetime then transferred to designated beneficiaries at your death by your chosen representative, called a “successor trustee.”

It’s called a “living trust” because it is established while you are alive. It is “revocable” because as long as you are mentally competent, you can change or dissolve the trust as often as you want, at any time you want. You can also be more creative with the distribution of your assets than with a will. You can designate that your assets be portioned out over time and in amounts that you specify, rather than one lump sum to be distributed after probate like in a will.

What is a Will?

A will on the other hand, is an executed legal document with a set distribution plan, overseen by your executor, who distributes your assets according to your exact wishes, to be distributed once, at your death. With a valid will your estate will go through probate, which are the court proceedings through which your assets are distributed according to what is written in the will. This can often be a lengthy and drawn out process.

Why a Trust?

One of the main reasons people decide to have their assets distributed with a living trust is to avoid probate. Trusts will not go through the probate court, which means a faster distribution to your heirs. Also, trusts are private because they do not go through probate like wills. Probate courts are a matter of public record; therefore, every will is read into the record of the court and all your final wishes are made available to the public. In addition, the probate court can take many months to complete the distribution of your estate.

Furthermore, the property must go through probate in the state it is located. So if you have a home in another state it must go through that particular state’s probate court, thus adding additional delays to the distribution of those assets.

What if I don’t have either one?

If you don’t have a trust or a will; then the state will distribute all of your assets according to your state’s intestacy laws. Usually that means transferring all your assets to a living spouse or the closest living heir, which may or may not be what you want. Also, if you have minor children and no living spouse, the state will determine who will be their legal guardian.

Which costs more?

It really depends on your preferences whether a trust is right for you. While a will often costs less to create initially, a living trust can possibly save your estate money at your passing. By avoiding the costs of probate court which are usually taken out of the estate, a trust can save your heirs money when your estate is distributed.

Also, certain trusts can avoid some estate taxes; however, it is worth noting that this is only for very large estates (5 million dollars or more). Another important note, it is recommended that you have a living trust in addition to a will. For example, if a trust is created and you have don’t have a will, in the event you obtain additional assets that are not included in that trust, at your death the state will determine how they are distributed.

I have no idea which to choose, what do I do?

A will or a trust should not be an either/or proposition. You shouldn’t choose a trust over a will and vice versa. Ultimately, it depends on your financial situation; the general rule is that the larger the estate the more important it is to have a living trust. But at the very least everyone should have a will, they are inexpensive to create and can give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your wishes will be carried out at your passing. Because there are various benefits to trusts, people do choose to add them in addition to their will.

Bottom line, although trusts are typically associated with more wealthy people, this is no longer necessarily the norm. Due to the various benefits of living trusts people of all income brackets are starting to consider trusts as a supplement to their will. If you are person who values their privacy and want to save your heirs some time and money, a trust may be right for you.

Blurred Lines Lead to Blurred Boundaries

First Round of Lawsuits:

In 2014, according to Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, Marvin Gaye’s family had sent several threats to the duo regarding their 2013 summer hit, “Blurred Lines”. The late Motown mogul’s family claimed that the present-day song writers had stolen lines and musical ideas from Gaye’s 1977 song, “Got to Give It Up”. Thicke and Williams lost this first round of the lawsuit in the same year, striking a countersuit from the family that accused them of being fixated on Marvin Gaye and stealing his music. After U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt denied Thicke and Williams’ motion for summary, he noted that the family argued a plausible case with sufficient evidence, thus scheduling a trial for February 10, 2015.

Verdict:

Ultimately, the U.S. District Court jury from Los Angeles found Thicke and Williams guilty of plagiarism. Gaye’s children were granted $7.4 million in damages and earnings that were acquired from the alleged copyright infringement. The family was then seeking a court conjunction denying future distribution of the song based on the court’s verdict.

Thicke and Willliams’ to Contest Verdict:

Although both artists agreed that they were inspired from Marvin Gaye’s hit, they were eager to convince others that their musical ideas were none other than their own. Their attorney, Howard King, is said to seek a retrial if the judge denies their motion requesting that the verdict be set aside. King has given reasons for contesting the expert testimony given by a musicologist, stating that the specialist focused on musical elements that were not present on the original sheet music Thicke and Williams had used. Claiming that the jury had relied solely on this aspect, they had overlooked a few technicalities regarding the actual copyright itself. At the time, King said, only the written music could be registered as protected, which did not include the sound recordings.

Gaye Family vs. T.I.

Reports are now indicating that the family of the late singer may be seeking justice from another artist involved with “Blurred Lines” as well. With very little information released so far, rapper T.I. is also insistent on his creative innocence. Confident that he will not be wound up in a lawsuit like his fellow collaborators, T.I. previously stated that he had nothing but admiration and respect for Marvin Gaye and the music he created. Further details are to be expected in the near future.

The above article was written by Ashley Hill