BRISTOL, Conn. (AP/WHDH) – As Aaron Hernandez’s family turned out Monday for a private funeral to say their farewells, a Massachusetts judge ordered that three suicide notes left behind by the ex-New England Patriots star be turned over by the time he is buried.
The former New England Patriots tight end, who was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, hanged himself in his cell in a maximum-security prison in Shirley last Wednesday. Only days earlier he had been acquitted of murder charges in the shooting deaths of two men in Boston’s South End in 2012.
Ahead of the 1 p.m. funeral service, a lawyer for Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez, asked Judge Thomas MacGuire to release copies of three notes Hernandez left next to a Bible before killing himself. He said Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.’s office had refused to share the contents of the notes until the investigation into Hernandez’s death is complete.
“I think it’s necessary as part of the grieving process,” said attorney George Leontire. “We’ll see where the case goes from here.”
McGuire said Early’s office can redact information from the notes before producing copies to protect the ongoing investigation. The family received the full notes without redaction.
Kyle Kennedy, another inmate at the prison in Shirley, and his attorney said he befriended Hernandez and one of the notes Hernandez left was for him. “A letter was left to my client but neither I, nor my client, have seen the letter,” said Kennedy’s attorney in a statement. “We will be requesting that the letter be turned over to my client as soon as possible.”
One of the letters was reportedly left for Jenkins Hernandez and another was reportedly for his young daughter, Avielle. The recipient of the third letter is still unclear. A source close to the Hernandez family told 7News, “The family has received all the letters and writings, per the judge’s order,” and added, “There are no letters addressed to any inmates.”
Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety Dan Bennett said that he was confident that Hernandez’s death was in fact a suicide.
“I know by reviewing the notes just a few minutes ago, that they’re not going to affect the investigation.” Bennett said after he was called to Bristol County Superior Court in New Bedford.
Hernandez’s mother, brother, fiancee and at least one defense attorney were among the dozens who attended the invitation-only service in his hometown of Bristol, Connecticut. 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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