• 52°

Ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez hangs himself in his prison cell

BOSTON (AP) — Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez hanged himself in the prison cell where he was serving a life sentence for murder, officials said Wednesday, the same day his ex-teammates on the New England Patriots were set to visit the White House to mark their Super Bowl victory.

His death came just days after the 27-year-old athlete was acquitted in a second murder case.

Guards found Hernandez just after 3 a.m., Correction Department spokesman Christopher Fallon said. The onetime tight end was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead about an hour later.

Hernandez had been housed in a single cell in a general population unit at the maximum-security state prison in Shirley. He tried to jam the cell door to prevent guards from opening it and hanged himself with a bedsheet tied to a window, Fallon said.

Fallon said he was not aware of any suicide note. He said officials had no reason to believe Hernandez might take his life, and if they had had any such worries, he would have been transferred to a mental health unit.

The Worcester County district attorney’s office and the Correction Department are investigating.

Hernandez’s lawyer, Jose Baez, said he will conduct his own investigation.

“There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible,” he said in a statement.

“Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence. Those who love and care about him are heartbroken and determined to find the truth surrounding his untimely death.”

The Patriots had no immediate comment.

Hernandez helped the University of Florida win the 2008 NCAA championship, but he dropped to the fourth round of the NFL draft because of his behavior in college, where he failed a drug test, he was accused of punching a bar employee, and his name came up in an investigation into a shooting.

He was a productive tight end for the Patriots for three seasons, catching 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns in his second year to help the team reach the Super Bowl. In 2012, he signed a five-year, $40 million contract extension.

But the team released him in 2013 after he was arrested in the killing of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. He was convicted and sentenced to life without parole.

Last Friday, Hernandez was acquitted in the deadly 2012 drive-by shootings of two men in Boston. Prosecutors said he gunned them down after one of them accidentally spilled a drink on him in a nightclub.

 

Comments

Local

City gives away nearly 100 trees during ‘We Dig Salisbury’ event

Local

Political Notebook: Bitzer expects most ‘Trump-like’ candidate to be favorite in state’s Senate race

Crime

Blotter: Concord man arrested in Rowan for indecent liberties with children

Coronavirus

Half of US adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

Nation/World

Police: FedEx shooter legally bought guns used in shooting

News

Hester Ford, oldest living American, dies at 115 … or 116?

Local

Size of pipeline spill again underestimated in North Carolina

BREAKING NEWS

Kannapolis Police searching for suspect who fled scene of homicide

Education

RSS superintendent talks district’s future, strategic plan survey

News

Complaints and fines pile up against unpermitted landfill in southwest Rowan County

College

Catawba baseball: Crowd comes out to say goodbye to Newman Park

Lifestyle

History is a great teacher: Farming has helped shape Rowan County

Business

‘A safe place for them’: Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things celebrates fifth anniversary

China Grove

County will hear request for more tree houses, hobbit-style homes in China Grove

Coronavirus

Livingstone College partners with Health Department to administer 500 Pfizer vaccinations

Education

‘Elite and it shows’: Staff at Partners in Learning at Novant celebrate news of national accreditation

Business

Biz Roundup: Food Lion earns Energy Star award for 20th consecutive year

Columns

Ester Marsh: What body type are you?

Nation/World

The queen says goodbye to Philip, continues her reign alone

Nation/World

Worldwide COVID-19 death toll tops a staggering 3 million

Nation/World

US, China agree to cooperate on climate crisis with urgency

Nation/World

Sikh community calls for gun reforms after FedEx shooting

High School

North Rowan romps into second round of football playoffs

Nation/World

FBI had interviewed former FedEx employee who killed eight