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 a 2013 murder, hanged himself in his cell in a maximum-security prison in Massachusetts last Wednesday. Only days earlier he had 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 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,” attorney George Leontire said. “We’ll see where the case goes from here.”
McGuire’s two-page order asked that the notes be turned over to the Hernandez family prior to the 27-year-old’s burial, which took place Monday afternoon.
McGuire said Early’s office can redact information from the notes before producing copies to protect the ongoing investigation.
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.
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.
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.