Aaron Hernandez's brain to be donated for CTE studies, lawyer say
FILE - In this Wednesday, April 12, 2017, file photo, Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez, fiancee of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, sits in the courtroom with the couple's daughter du.
Authorities discovered the 27-year-old Hernandez at 3:05 a.m.in his single cell in the correctional center in Shirley, Mass., hanging from a bed sheet tied to the cell's window, the cell door jammed shut from the inside with various items.
"Nields performed an autopsy on Mr. Hernandez on Wednesday and concluded today that the manner of death was suicide and the cause asphyxia by hanging", the Worcester County District Attorney's office said. According to a report in the Boston Globe, Hernandez's death may impact his conviction in the 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd.
No suicide note was left, but sources told Fox25Boston that "John 3:16" was written on his forehead and the wall of his prison cell.
Reporters asked Baez if he thought Hernandez suffered from CTE, but Baez would only say, "We need to leave no stone unturned and we need to specifically do everything possible to find out what happened".
The DA said Hernandez's brain would also be released to his family so they could donate it to BU. 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. State police spokesman Dave Procopio also cites the "active" investigation.
Jose Baez, the family's attorney, said arrangements were already made to donate the football player's brain to Boston University's Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center, a world renowned leader in CTE research.
Earlier in the day, Daniel Bennett, the state's Secretary of Public Safety and Security, issued a statement saying that the medical examiner is still investigating the circumstances of Hernandez's death and will release the brain to BU once that investigation is finished.
Baez explained that Hernandez's legal team had made arrangements to have his brain released to the university, but that the medical examiner's office suddenly chose to withhold it.
"Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence", he said in a statement, referring to the possibility of Herdandez's first-degree murder conviction being overturned.
"That was a positive thing in our minds", said Alex Cugno, who grew up with Hernandez in Bristol. The team's owner, Robert Kraft, and coach, Bill Belichick did not address Hernandez's death in their remarks and players declined to comment on it.