Former NFL player Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell on Wednesday in what authorities have deemed a suicide. Hernandez hanged himself using his bedsheet attached to the cell window, after attempting to jam his door shut with various items. While serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for a different crime, Hernandez was acquitted on Friday of a double murder case from 2012.
Hernandez is a former tight end for the New England Patriots, playing for the team from 2010 - 2012. The Patriots released Hernandez after he was arrested for the murder of Odin L. Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins. Lloyd's body was found in a pit at an industrial park near Hernandez's home, shot six times. According to the prosecution, Hernandez's motive for murder was that Lloyd talked with people Hernandez did not like while at a bar in Boston.
Hernandez was sentenced to a life sentence without the possibility of parole for Lloyd's murder, but was in the process of appealing his conviction. In 2014, Hernandez was indicted for the murders of Daniel Jorge Correia de Abreu and Safiro Teixeira Furtado who died in a drive-by shooting in July of 2012. After two weeks of deliberation, a jury acquitted Hernandez of both murders and an additional charge of witness intimidation. He was found guilty of illegal possession of a handgun. Just days after the acquittal, Hernandez allegedly killed himself.
Because Hernandez died before his appeal process was complete, he technically died an innocent man. Under the doctrine of 'abatement ab initio,' codified in Massachusetts' criminal case law, criminal convictions are erased if a person dies before the appeals process finishes. The idea behind the doctrine is that the individual has not had the full opportunity to clear his or her name.
Hernandez was housed in a single cell in the general prison population at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts. According to officials, there was no concern that Hernandez might be a suicide risk and no suicide note was found. State police will continue to investigate the case.
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