Aaron Hernandez’s death was officially ruled a suicide on Thursday, one day after the former New England Patriots tight end was found hanging in his prison cell.
The convicted murderer’s “manner of death was suicide and the cause asphyxia by hanging,” according a news release, Massachusetts chief medical examiner Dr. Henry N. Nields said in a statement, according to Boston.com.
Hernandez, 27, was serving a life sentence for the murder of 2013 Odin Lloyd when he killed himself at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, which is located about an hour away from his former NFL stadium in Foxborough.
“There were no signs of a struggle, and investigators determined that Mr. Hernandez was alone at the time of the hanging,” the district attorney’s office said in the statement.
It was also reported on Thursday, that along with a bible verse written on his forehead, Hernandez left three handwritten notes in his cell. The content of those letters have not been released.
The D.A.’s statement conflicts with the opinion held by Hernandez’s attorney, Jose Baez, who didn’t believe his client would commit suicide. “There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible,” he said.
“Those who love and care about him are heartbroken and determined to find the truth surrounding his untimely death.”
“As it relates to a suicide or not, we don’t make that call until (the investigation) is done,” he continued Thursday, USA Today reported. “Why are you so quick to accept their word?”
Baez also said that Hernandez’s family have arranged for researchers at Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center to take custody of his brain for scientific research.
The center studies a progressive degenerative brain disease found in some athletes who have experienced repetitive brain trauma such as CET.
Skeptical of the state coroner’s ruling, Baez has retained Dr. Michael Baden, a former chief medical examiner for New York City, to perform an independent autopsy.
On April 14, Hernandez was was acquitted in Suffolk Superior Court on charges of killing Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in a drive-by shooting in the city’s South End in the early morning hours of July 16, 2012. However, he was still destined to remain in prison for life after being convicted of Lloyd’s murder in April 2015.
See the full D.A. statement below, which was shared on Twitter by the Mass State Police, after they were “overloaded with requests.”