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Hernandez death officially ruled suicide, but questions remain

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BOSTON - The death of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez has been officially ruled a suicide.

His death comes just days after he was acquitted of killing two men in the South End in 2012 remains shrouded in mystery.

Family, medical examiner's office fighting over Hernandez's brain

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Henry N. Nields concluded that Hernandez died due to asphyxia by hanging.

State Police said they found cardboard jammed into the door tracks of Hernandez's single-inmate cell to impede entry into the cell. He was being housed in Souza-Baranowski prison while serving a life sentence for being convicted of killing Odin Lloyd in 2013.

Investigators said Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing unit when he was found.

The District Attorney's news release said Hernandez was locked in his cell about 8 p.m., there were no signs of a struggle, and investigators determined that Mr. Hernandez was alone at the time of the hanging.

Mr. Hernandez was locked in his cell about 8 p.m. and no one entered the cell until a correction officer observed him at 3:03 a.m. and forced his way through the impeded door to render aid.

FOX25 has learned the corrections officer in Hernandez's unit has been suspended because they did not conduct the 2 a.m. unit check, as required. 

Officials said there were no signs of a struggle and he was by himself at the time of his death. Investigators found three hand-written notes next to a Bible in the cell.


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His death is likely going to affect his murder conviction.

“I know that’s going to be hard for a lot of people to swallow but if you die during an appeal in Massachusetts, the appeal of a criminal case, the conviction is vacated,” Legal analyst Peter Elikann said on FOX25 News Wednesday morning.

Hernandez was in the process of appealing his murder conviction, which came with a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

“Clearly it’s a very, very narrow legal technicality,” Elikann said. “It’s not like you’ve been vindicated or people now realize you weren’t guilty or anything.”

He said everyone has the right to appeal and now that Hernandez is dead, it means he doesn’t have a way of exercising that right.

“Who knows if your conviction would have ultimately been vacated from the appeal,” he said. “So the idea is that since he doesn’t have the opportunity to appeal we’re not going to hold the conviction on you. And that’s how they look at it in Massachusetts law.”

Hernandez’s death came hours before his former teammates visited the White House to celebrate their historic Super Bowl victory and the day before his mother's birthday. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.