“Unnecessary Roughness: Inside the Trial and Final Days of Aaron Hernandez” by Jose Baez— The Inside Story

Baez, Jose. “Unnecessary Roughness: Inside the Trial and Final Days of Aaron Hernandez”, Hatchette, 2018.

The Inside Story

Amos Lassen

Jose Baez shares the revelatory inside story of the trial and final days of New England Patriots superstar Aaron Hernandez. It all began when renowned defense attorney Jose Baez received a request for representation from Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez was the disgraced Patriots tight end was already serving a life sentence for murder. Defending him in a second, double-murder trial was probably a lost cause but Baez accepted the challenge, and their partnership culminated in a courtroom victory, a race to contest his first conviction, and ultimately a tragedy, when Aaron killed himself just days after his acquittal.

This is an account of Aaron’s life and final year and is based on countless intimate conversations with Aaron, and told from the perspective of a true insider. It has been written with the support of Hernandez’s fiancée and it takes us inside the high-profile trial, and gives us a dramatic retelling of the race to obtain key evidence that would exonerate Hernandez, and later play a very important role in appealing his first conviction.

We get revelations about Aaron’s personal life that weren’t shared at trial and an exploration of the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy diagnosis revealed by his autopsy. Baez gives us a startling courtroom drama and an unexpected portrait of a fallen father, fiancé, and teammate.

Baez was the attorney who got Hernandez acquitted of a 2012 double murder and he squashes the rumor about the jailhouse letters and presents fascinating new details about Hernandez’s trade request to Bill Belichick. Baez describes Hernandez’s final days as an inmate and suicide victim. Living in Boston, it was almost impossible not to follow the trial but even having one so, I learned a great deal from this book. In my opinion this is the best resource on the Hernandez case.

Hernandez was secretive and his family and friends have said very little. We have not been privy to his thoughts and decisions and reasons. Baez became very close to Aaron and became one of his few confidants. As a result, we see Hernandez in a new way. We get answers to questions that have not been publicized including about Hernandez’s sexuality to the full text of his suicide notes to the lifestyles of the Cape Verdeans he was accused of murdering. Baez writes about things that were unaddressed.

Baez took what could have been a very sleazy exercise and makes it feel almost like Hernandez himself might have written this if he was ready to tell his story himself. Baez remains true to his loyalty to his client and his love of Hernandez makes him human. In a sense, Baez gives us something of a primer on how to try a criminal case and I felt that we learned as much about Baez as we did about Hernandez.



Hernandez’s troubles started at Florida University and are well documented… along with his coach Urban Meyer whose team had more arrests and suspensions than any team in the country. Hernandez was not only suspended for weed but because he was always in trouble about something. This is a well-written and interesting book that fills in some of the mystery but lays bare others.

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