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Beyond the Bison: Former New England Patriot found dead in prison cell

Bri Pomonis, Sports Co-Editor

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Former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center on April 19. His death was ruled a suicide by hanging.

The 113th overall 2010 draft pick was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Fernandez’s fiancée at the time of his death, was found in an industrial park a mile outside of Hernandez’s house with multiple gunshot wounds to the back and chest. The motive remains unknown, but investigators suggest trust issues had started to brew between the two. Hernandez was arrested nine days later and charged with first-degree murder and multiple gun charges.

This was not Hernandez’s first run-in with the law. Following his father’s sudden death during a routine hernia surgery when he was 16, Hernandez became defiant of authority and rebellious. Drug use and a history of violence caused his stock in the 2010 draft to plummet despite his promising college career. His first charge came after a 17-year-old Hernandez punched a club employee after refusing to pay for his drinks. That same year, he was suspected of being involved in the shooting of two men after leaving a club.

Notably contributing to his lengthy prison sentence was a double homicide charge for the murders of Daniel Jorge Correia de Abreu and Safiro Teixeira Furtado in 2012. Hernandez was indicted for this charge in 2014, but the trial did not begin until March 2017.

On April 15, 2015, Hernandez was found guilty of first-degree murder, earning him an automatic life sentence without possibility of parole.

It would be a sentence that would never be fully served. Hernandez was found hanging in his barricaded, single cell with “John 3:16” on his forehead.

His death left family, friends, and associates extremely caught off-guard, as his life was beginning to show potential for an upswing. Just five days before his death, Hernandez was found not guilty of the 2013 double homicide charges and was seen blowing kisses to his four-year-old daughter in the courtroom. He was hoping to make an appeal to reduce or end his sentence for his remaining charges.

“There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that indicated anything like this was possible. Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence,” José Baez, Hernandez’s lawyer, said.

Several people who know Hernandez have also expressed their doubts and are requesting an investigation to be conducted at the prison.

“He was in good spirits, that he was … thinking about his future and how he was going to win his appeal in his Odin Lloyd case, and he was in really good spirits. So for this to happen—we’re shocked and we still don’t believe that he took his life, and we still believe there’s a lot of foul play going on,” his cousin Randy Garcia said, reflecting on a recent phone call Hernandez shared with his nephew.

Perhaps the full story behind Hernandez’s life and death will remain unsolved. Regardless, it has proven a deadly story for too many.

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The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University
Beyond the Bison: Former New England Patriot found dead in prison cell