Aaron Hernandez hangs himself in prison

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Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez killed himself in his prison cell early Wednesday while serving a life sentence for a 2013 murder without the possibility of parole, authorities said.

Corrections officers found him at about 3:05 a.m. hanging by a bed sheet attached to a window at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass., where he tried to block his door by jamming it with various items, officials said.

They tried lifesaving techniques on the 27-year-old former Pro Bowler before taking him to UMass Memorial-HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster, where he was pronounced dead about an hour later.

He was not on suicide watch at the general-population unit in the maximum-security prison because there had been no indications he planned on hurting himself, DOC spokesman Christopher Fallon told The Boston Globe.

“If he had made any kind of statement, he would have not been in that unit,” Fallon said, adding that investigators have not found anything resembling a suicide note in his Unit G-2 cell.

Hernandez was serving a sentence of life without parole after being convicted in 2015 of killing of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player who was dating the sister of his fiancee.

Prosecutors said last week there was no chance Hernandez would ever be a free man again.

Patriots spokesman Stacey James said in a statement that the team was aware of the death of their former All-Star, “but I don’t anticipate that we will be commenting today.”

The former tight end’s suicide marked the end of his spectacular fall from grace as a premier athlete, and came on the same day that President Trump plans to host his former teammates at the White House for winning Super Bowl LI.

It also came just five days after Hernandez was acquitted in a 2012 double slaying prosecutors said was fueled by an argument over a spilled drink.

The jury found him not guilty of first-degree murder in the killings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado – but convicted him of unlawful possession of gun.

Before his acquittal, Hernandez was seen smiling and blowing kisses in the courtroom to the 4-year-old girl he fathered with his fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins. The father and daughter exchanged waves during the sweet moment.

The judge sentenced him to an additional four to five years in prison, separate from his existing life sentence, for that conviction.

Prosecutors said Hernandez opened fire on their car because he felt disrespected when one of the men bumped into him and spilled his drink at a Boston nightclub.

The defense team pointed the finger at Alexander Bradley, a close friend of Hernandez who was with him the night of the shootings.

Hernandez also was acquitted last week of shooting Bradley in the face months later to try to silence him as a witness.

Bradley claimed Hernandez became enraged after de Abreu bumped into him while dancing, spilling his drink. He said Hernandez later opened fire on the men’s car as they waited at a stoplight.

About six weeks after Furtado and de Abreu were killed, Hernandez signed a five-year, $40 million contract extension with the Patriots that included a $12.5 million bonus and went on to play another season before Lloyd was killed.

He was cut from the team shortly after he was arrested in Lloyd’s June 2013 killing. He was not charged in the 2012 killings until 2014.

In his first trial, jurors deliberated for 36 hours over seven days before convicting him of murder. Jurors in the trial that concluded Friday deliberated for about 37 hours.

Last week, Pats coach Bill Belichick used the word “tragic” to describe his former player during a CNBC word-association interview.

“It’s a sad day. It’s really a sad day on so many levels. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, with the victim. I express my sympathy with everyone that’s been impacted. A young man has lost his life, a family has suffered a tragic loss,” Belichick said after Hernandez was arrested in 2013, The Washington Post reported.

The Bristol, Conn., native played for the University of Florida, and then for the Patriots from 2010 to 2012, when he scored a touchdown in Super Bowl XLVI in a loss to the New York Giants.

“He was really intelligent, and that’s why he was such a pain in the [butt],” a former University of Florida staffer told NFL.com in 2014, the Washington Post reported.

“He knew how to beat the system on everything.”

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