Tattoos on Trial: Could Your Tattoos Prove Your Innocence?

Aaron Hernandez Tattoo

Recently in the news you’ve probably heard about Aaron Hernandez being on trial for drive-by shootings of two men. He’s already serving a life sentence but prosecutors have come up with an impressive new line of evidence against Hernandez– his tattoos. Back in January, a judge decided to allow some of the tattoos to be submitted as evidence. This is extremely unusual unless you take into account those obvious tattoos like “I Killed X” or gang tattoos that specify victims. There are several of Hernandez’ tattoos that will be used to bring him to justice.

The incident from 2012 saw Hernandez pull up to a car outside of a nightclub in Boston before shooting into the vehicle, killing two. According to witnesses one of the men had spilled Hernandez’ drink inside the club, he then waited outside until the party left before the attack.

The Smoking Gun

Prosecutors allege that a tattoo of a 6 shooter revolver that has 5 chambered bullets and one missing represents the number of shots fired from Hernandez into the car of his victims.

Traditionally a smoking gun tattoo design symbolizes strength and violence. While modern pistols are seen as a more violent and less romantic description the missing bullet could be seen as an action that has already been completed and can never be taken back. Something that would indeed equate with taking a life. Pistols are the most common choice for gun tattoos, especially revolvers because they have an aesthetic shape and can be as ornate as desired. It’s less likely to see rifle tattoos, though they can be popular for military, police, or because they’re a specific heirloom.

Other meanings that can be attributed to gun tattoos include vengeance, honor, authority, and protection. All of which would again connect to what Hernandez may have seen as defending his honor and taking vengeance on the group who bumped into him.

The Rear view Mirror

There’s also a related tattoo nearby which reads “God Forgives” only it’s been tattooed backwards so that it could only be read in a mirror. The theory here is that this represents the rear view mirror of the car as he drove away.

Mirror writing is considered a very simple form of code, it was used by Da Vinci to write all his journals. Many people can write in mirror writing as easily as they can when writing normally. You’ll see mirror writing used on the front of many emergency vehicles with the express intent that it can be seen in a car’s rear view mirror. There has to be a reason why Hernandez decided to do this tattoo specifically in mirror writing rather than right way forwards, and it’s hard to think of any other reason than for it to be viewed from a rear view mirror.

Whether you believe that Hernandez is guilty or not his tattoos are now part of the case, and while their meanings are the subject of speculation there’s certainly some circumstantial and coincidental connections there. It’s easy to see how prosecutors came to these conclusions, but since they also have witnesses the tattoos are likely to just be the nail in the coffin in this case.

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