Medical examiner releases Aaron Hernandez’s brain to family

BOSTON (WHDH) - Boston’s medical examiner confirmed that Aaron Hernandez’s brain has been released to his family after his attorney accused the M.E.’s office of “illegally” withholding it.

At a press conference Thursday, Baez announced that the ex-NFL star’s family agreed to donate his brain to Boston University for CTE research. CTE is a degenerative brain disease, often associated with blows to the head. Other athletes have made arrangements to have their brains donated to the research program upon their deaths.

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Baez explained that Hernandez’s legal team had made arrangements to have his brain released to the university, but that the medical examiner’s office suddenly decided to withhold it. His body was released to a funeral home in Watertown, where an independent autopsy was done at the request of his family.

“The family does not have confidence in the medical examiner’s office,” said Baez. The attorney called the office’s actions a “gross mishandling of something so sensitive” and said it was a “destruction of evidence issue.”

Hours later, the Worcester County district attorney officially ruled Hernandez’s death a suicide by asphyxiation, saying he hanged himself in his jail cell. The DA said Hernandez’s brain would also be released to his family so they could donate it to BU.

Baez initially threatened to go to court over the M.E. not releasing his client’s brain. He declined to say whether he or Hernandez’s family believed the former Patriots player had CTE but said they wanted a “thorough” investigation into his death.

The medical examiner’s office issued the following statement in response to Baez:

“The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is conducting an investigation into the circumstances of Aaron Hernandez’s death, which may require further analysis of his body. Once that is complete the brain will be released to Boston University. No one is going to stand in the way of the family’s wishes for Boston University to have Aaron Hernandez’s brain.”

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