Former NFL star commits suicide in prison after acquittal

The strange case of Aaron Hernandez came to an abrupt end this morning after prison guards found him dead in his cell after committing suicide. The former New England Patriots star had just won an acquittal in a double-homicide trial, but was serving a life sentence from a previous murder conviction almost exactly two years ago:

Staff at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, found Hernandez hanging in his prison cell at 3:05 a.m. EDT (0705 GMT) and he was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead at 4:07 a.m. EDT (0807 GMT).

“Mr. Hernandez hanged himself utilizing a bed sheet that he attached to his cell window,” the state corrections commission said in a statement. “Mr. Hernandez also attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items.”

CBS affiliate WBZ in Boston calls it a “tragic end to a tragic story”:

The strangest part of this was that Hernandez had more reason for hope in the last few days. He beat the rap in the double murder, his fiancée was sticking with him, and his attorneys were working on appeals in the Odin Lloyd case. Why now? Why not in 2015 after getting the life-without-parole sentence?

Hernandez’ apparent suicide took prison officials by surprise, too:

The Massachusetts State Police are on scene and the investigation is ongoing.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Correction told ABC News there was no prior concern Hernandez was suicidal, otherwise he would have been on mental health watch in a different part of the prison. It’s unknown at this time whether he left a suicide note, the spokesman said.

Who would have thought to put him on a suicide watch after an acquittal? That will make the investigation worth watching. Did they miss something obvious, did this come out of left field, or was it something other than suicide? The latter seems highly unlikely, but under the circumstances, investigators will want to rule it out explicitly.

ESPN’s Adam Shefter also calls this a “tragedy,” both for Hernandez, his daughter, and for his victims. It’s certainly true for his victims and his daughter, but his suicide now might make that even worse for all of them:

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Jazz Shaw 7:31 PM on October 02, 2022