A judge recently sentenced former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez to spend the rest of his life in prison for orchestrating the murder of semi-professional football player and friend, Odin Lloyd.
Hernandez, however, isn’t the first professional athlete to face prison time for killing someone. These five players either served their sentences or are still behind bars.
1. Rae Carruth
Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth went from making $US40,000 a game to earning 40 cents a day as a janitor at Nash Correctional Institution in North Carolina. After police found him hiding in the trunk of his friend’s car in 1999, he was charged with hiring two men to murder his girlfriend at the time.
Cherica Adams, then 24, was six-a-half months pregnant with Carruth’s child when she was shot four times in her car, forcing a doctor to perform an emergency birth. While Adams didn’t survive, her son did. Although severely disabled and confined to a wheel chair, his grandmother describes him as the “happiest person I’ve ever met.”
During Carruth’s trial, prosecutors argued that he ordered the hit to avoid paying child support, and he was sentenced to spend 24 years in prison. With time served, however, his release date falls in 2018.
2. Jayson Williams
Two years after leaving the NBA — former ’90s Nets player Jayson Williams apparently forgot to secure the safety on his 12-gauge and shot and killed his limo driver, Costas Christofi. Williams then wiped off the gun and put it in the driver’s hands.
During an eight-year legal battle, Williams’ lawyers maintained the shooting was accidental. While he was acquitted of accidental manslaughter, a judge sentenced him to serve 5 years in prison in 2010 for trying to cover it up. Williams was out on parole within 18 months and then back behind bars shortly after for another 8 months for drunk driving in New York.
Williams has since said that prison saved him from a “downward spiral,” giving him time to think about his issues with alcohol.
3. Eric Naposki
Two decades ago, Eric Naposki, another former Patriots player, murdered his lover’s live-in boyfriend, apparently so she could collect the $US1 million life insurance policy. The day before Naposki shot the man six times in 1994, his girlfriend, Nanette Ann Packard, wrote an ominous $US250,000 check from his account to herself.
While Packard spent only one year in jail for falsifying a check, the case went cold. Then in 2009, police identified the murder weapon and secured a new witness, allowing them to file formal charges against Naposki, long suspected in the crime.
A judge sentenced him to life in prison without parole in 2012. Packard was also charged in the murder and sentenced to life in prison.
4. Robert Rozier
After playing only six games as a defensive end for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1979, Robert Rozier was released by his team and soon joined “The Brotherhood,” a violent black supremacist cult led by a man named Yahweh ben Yahweh.
In 1986, however, Rozier was arrested in connection with two killings, bringing negative attention to The Brotherhood. He would later plead guilty to the murder of seven white people. As part of a deal to reduce his sentence, Rozier testified against Yahweh in his own trial in 1992.
Rozier served his 10-year sentence, was released, and changed his name to Robert Rameses. He’s now back in prison for 25-to-life under the “three strikes” law.
Yahweh himself was sentenced to 18 years in prison, along with other prominent individuals in The Brotherhood, in connection with at least 15 gruesome murders. He died in 2007 at 71.
5. Mark ‘Gator’ Rogowski
By age 14 in 1981, Mark Rogowski was already skateboarding professionally all over California. By 17, he was earning $US100,000 a year, partly as the face for Vision’s “Gator” skateboards, which contributed to his nickname.
By 1990, however, his fame had dried up as new forms of skating appeared. After his girlfriend broke up with him, he took out his rage on her best friend. Rogowski raped her, then strangled her, and buried her body in a surfboard bag in the desert.
Sentenced in 1992, Rogowski is currently serving a 31-year prison sentence at Men’s Colony in California. He was denied parole in 2011 and won’t be eligible again until 2018.
In a documentary about his life, Rogowski admits: “I was a coward emotionally and mentally; I hate what I did.”
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