Convicted killer and Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez was found in his Massachusetts prison cell early Wednesday.
According to prison officials, Hernandez hanged himself Wednesday in the prison cell where he was serving a life sentence for murder.
- Aaron Hernandez found dead early Wednesday in his prison cell at Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Massachusetts
- Hernandez, former NFL star, was 27
- Hernandez attorney Jose Baez said there were no indication his client was suicidal
His death came less than a week after the 27-year-old athlete was acquitted in a second murder case.
Guards found Hernandez just after 3 a.m., Correction Department spokesman Christopher Fallon said. The onetime tight end was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead about an hour later.
Hernandez had been housed in a single cell in a general population unit at the maximum-security state prison in Shirley. He tried to jam the cell door to prevent guards from opening it and hanged himself with a bedsheet tied to a window, Fallon said.
Fallon said he was not aware of any suicide note. He said officials had no reason to believe Hernandez might take his life, and if they had had any such worries, he would have been transferred to a mental health unit.
Despite helping the University of Florida win the 2008 NCAA championship, Hernandez dropped to the fourth round of the NFL draft because of misbehavior in college.
But he was a productive tight end for the Patriots for three seasons, catching 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns in his second year to help the team reach the Super Bowl. In 2012, he signed a five-year, $40 million contract extension.
Two years later, Hernandez was unable to even watch his former team play on television while he was in prison awaiting trial in one shooting and already a suspect in another.
The team released him in June 2013, shortly after he was arrested in the killing of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee. He was convicted and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Last Friday, Hernandez was acquitted in the deadly 2012 drive-by shootings of two men in Boston. Prosecutors said he gunned them down after one of them accidentally spilled a drink on him in a Boston nightclub.
As the jury was deliberating last week, cameras spied Hernandez blowing kisses to the young daughter he fathered with fiancée Shayanna Jenkins.
His death was "a shocking and sad end to a very tragic series of events that has negatively impacted a number of families," said Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn, who prosecuted Hernandez in the Lloyd case.
Statement from Hernandez attorney Jose Baez
Aaron Hernandez's attorney, Jose Baez, released a statement Wednesday morning saying there were no indications that his client was suicidal.
Baez said his firm wants the death thoroughly investigated.
"We are shocked and surprised at the news of Aaron’s death," Baez said in a released statement through his law firm.
"There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated this scenario was a possibility."
"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. The Baez law firm will participate in its own examination into the tragic events and will update the media and public on its finding when it becomes available."
The Massachusetts' Department of Correction issued this statement:
On April 19, 2017 Aaron Hernandez was discovered hanged in his cell by corrections officers at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley Massachusetts at approximately 3:05 a.m., lifesaving techniques were attempted on Mr. Hernandez and he was transported to UMASS Leominster where he was pronounced dead at 4:07 a.m. by a physician at the hospital. Mr. Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing. Mr. Hernandez hanged himself utilizing a bed sheet that he attached to his cell window. Mr. Hernandez also attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items. The Massachusetts State Police are on scene and the investigation continues. Mr. Hernandez’s next of kin have been notified.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.