A former NFL player who was serving a life sentence on a murder conviction committed suicide in his prison cell. ESPN reports that Aaron Hernandez, a former tight end for the New England Patriots, was found dead this morning after hanging himself.
The death of Hernandez comes on the same day the Patriots, who won the Super Bowl in February, are visiting the White House to receive congratulations for their championship.
“Guards found Hernandez unresponsive in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley just after 3 a.m., Department of Correction spokesman Christopher Fallon said in a statement,” ESPN reports. noting that Hernandez, 27, was pronounced dead at UMass Memorial-HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster about an hour later.
“Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing unit in the maximum security state prison. He hanged himself using a bed sheet that he attached to a cell window, Fallon said,” ESPN reports. “Hernandez tried to block the cell door from the inside by jamming the door with various items, Fallon said.”
Hernandez’s death is being investigated, but Fallon noted that no suicide had been found and said officials did not have previous concerns about the possibility that Hernandez might commit suicide.
In a statement, Jose Baez, a lawyer for Hernandez, said: “The family and legal team is shocked and surprised at the news of Aaron’s death. There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible. Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence. Those who love and care about him are heartbroken and determined to find the truth surrounding his untimely death. We request that authorities conduct a transparent and thorough investigation.”
His death comes just a few days after Hernandez was acquitted Friday of the 2012 fatal shootings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston. “Just before his acquittal, Hernandez was seen blowing kisses to the little girl he fathered with fiancee Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez,” ESPN notes. “Cameras captured the tender exchange.”
“He was still serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for his conviction in the 2013 shooting of Odin Lloyd, who was dating Jenkins-Hernandez’s sister,” ESPN adds.
The report quotes Hernandez’s former agent Brian Murphy saying today there was “absolutely no chance” that Hernandez killed himself. Murphy is quoted saying: “Chico was not a saint, but my family and I loved him and he would never take his own life.”
Here’s a clip posted by CNN about Hernandez’s murder trial and conviction in 2015 …