It was several years in the making, but the conclusion of the Aaron Hernandez trial with a guilty verdict for murder and a sentence of life behind bars without parole still shocked and saddened many in his hometown of Bristol.
At Riverside Restaurant, a favorite Bristol haunt, some patrons wearily looked up at the TV as Hernandez learned his ultimate fate. "It really hurts inside because I know the whole family and he used to come here all the time," said Riverside server Ghislaine Martin.
Martin said she remember serving Hernandez and his father when the ex-NFL star was just a young child. "They used to come here when he was just a little boy, with his Dad. So, yes, we've known him for a long, long time," Martin said.
After the decision came down, local lawyer Norm Pattis spoke to Fox CT's Jenn Bernstein on set about the legal strategies displayed in the trial. He too was surprised that the jury convicted Hernandez of first-degree murder.
Other patrons spoke sadly of the years when Hernandez was a star tight end at Bristol Central High School. "Disappointment cause everyone liked him. It was foolish that it was done but, you know," Tom Brophy said.
Bob Montgomery, a correspondent for the Bristol Press, said he was surprised when he learned that Hernandez was convicted. Montgomery interviewed the tight end several times before he made national fame.
"Do a good job for your dad. That's the last thing I said to him," Montgomery said.
Montgomery described Hernandez as Bristol's golden boy who's demise happened even more quickly than his meteoric rise to the top.
"21 years old he was the youngest kid in the NFL. At age 22 he had a $44 million contract. We've never had anybody in the NFL," Montgomery said.