BRISTOL, Conn. (WHDH/AP) – Family and friends of Aaron Hernandez arrived Monday to say their farewells to the former NFL player during a private funeral in his hometown.
Hernandez’s mother, fiancee and brother were among those who turned out for the invitation-only service in Bristol, Connecticut.
The former New England Patriots tight end, who was serving a life sentence for a 2013 murder, hanged himself in his cell in a maximum-security prison in Massachusetts last Wednesday. He had just been acquitted of murder charges in the shooting deaths of two men in Boston in 2012.
Ahead of the 1 p.m. service, a lawyer for Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez, asked a judge on Monday to release copies of three notes Hernandez left next to a Bible before killing himself. A judge approved that request, ordering the Worcester County District Attorney to release them before Hernandez’s burial.
“The family has the right, during this grieving process, to know their loved one’s final thoughts,” wrote the attorney, George Leontire.
The burial will be private at an undisclosed location.
Hernandez was serving a life sentence for the slaying of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee.
Hernandez’s family in a statement asked for privacy as they mourn and thanked people for offering condolences.
After the Massachusetts medical examiner ruled the death a suicide, Hernandez’s brain was taken to Boston University, where scientists will study it for any signs of repeated trauma suffered during his years of playing football.
A judge on Friday ordered key evidence in the prison suicide preserved, granting a request from Hernandez’s fiancee so the family can investigate the circumstances of his death.
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