Ex-Patriots Star Aaron Hernandez Commits Suicide in Prison

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Aaron Hernandez

The former NFL tight end was found after hanging himself in his cell while serving a life sentence for murder.

Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez hanged himself in his prison cell early Wednesday while serving a life sentence for murder, authorities said.

Hernandez, 27, was found by guards at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass., just after 3 a.m., Department of Correction spokesman Christopher Fallon said in a statement. The former New England Patriots tight end was pronounced dead at a hospital about an hour later.

His death comes just days after Hernandez was acquitted of a double murder and on the same day the Patriots were set to visit the White House to mark their Super Bowl win. A team spokesman says the Patriots are aware of the reports of Hernandez's death but the club isn't expected to comment.

Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing unit in the maximum-security state prison. He hanged himself with a bed sheet that he attached to a window, Fallon said. Hernandez tried to block the cell door from the inside by jamming it with various items, Fallon added.

Fallon said he's not aware of any suicide note written by Hernandez. He said that officials had no concern that Hernandez might take his own life, and said if they'd had such worries, they would have been transferred him to a mental health unit.

Hernandez was moved to tears Friday after he was acquitted of the 2012 fatal shootings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston. Just before his acquittal, Hernandez was seen blowing kisses to the little girl he fathered with fiancee Shayanna Jenkins. Cameras captured the tender exchange.

But Hernandez was still serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for his conviction in the 2013 shooting of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was dating his fiancee's sister.

He was tried but acquitted in the slayings of de Abreu and Furtado, who, prosecutors contended, were gunned down after one of the men accidentally spilled a drink on Hernandez in a Boston nightclub. The jury in that case found Hernandez not guilty of first-degree murder but convicted him of unlawful possession of a gun, and the judge sentenced him to an additional four to five years in prison — separate from his existing life sentence.

Hernandez's lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Massachusetts State Police remain on the scene investigating the death.

Hernandez grew up in Connecticut and played for the Patriots from 2010 to 2012. The team released him in June 2013, shortly after he was arrested in Lloyd's killing.

President Donald Trump's welcome to the team later Wednesday is coming hours after the news. The Super Bowl-champion team will visit the White House to accept congratulations from Trump for another NFL title.

Team owner Bob Kraft is a longtime Trump friend.

Some Patriots players, including Tom Brady, intend to skip the White House visit because they oppose Trump's presidency.

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