By Nicole Belair, Staff Writer
Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell on the morning of Wednesday, April 19, by apparent suicide, after hanging himself with his bed sheet.
Guards found Hernandez unresponsive in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass., around 3 a.m.
He had been locked in his cell since 8 p.m., and reportedly blocked the door with various items. Hernandez was rushed to UMass Memorial-Health Alliance Hospital in Leominster, where doctors pronounced him dead about an hour later.
There was no correspondence with his legal team leading up to his death. His lawyer, Jose Baez, stated that he was shocked and surprised, as there was no indication that Aaron was even considering committing suicide. Other members of his team, including his former agent, Brian Murphy, said Wednesday morning that there was “absolutely no chance” Hernandez took his own life.
“Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence,” Baez said.
Hernandez was acquitted of two murders just days before. However, he was still serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for an additional murder after being convicted of shooting his fiancée’s sister’s boyfriend. He also faced a subsequent weapons charge.
Hernandez, a star on the University of Florida football team, was a talented tight end of the Patriots for three seasons.
One thing that has stuck with me throughout the past week are the headlines. They remind me of what has happened when people like Brock Turner are in the news – publicized for their unparalleled athleticism or fame instead of being labeled a criminal. Some appeared as:
“Former New England Patriots Tight End Found Dead.”
“Former Patriots Star Accused of Murder…”
“Ex-NFL player Aaron Hernandez…”
What about “Convicted Murderer Aaron Hernandez?” Trust me, as a huge Pats fan, I know that being an NFL star was a huge part of his life; it’s what he is most known for, of course.
But continuing to focus on that instead of the fact that he murdered three people within the last few years just doesn’t seem fair. If we got so worked up about headlines for Brock Turner, why can’t we do the same for Hernandez?
At first, I didn’t fully understand his motive. I still don’t completely understand it. But one possibility is that, in the wake of his suicide, his conviction for the first murder could be voided. His death could make him an innocent man because of the legal principle “abatement ab initio.” This means that upon someone’s death, if they haven’t exhausted all of their legal appeals, the case reverts to its status at the beginning – as if the trial and conviction never happened, according to The Boston Globe. So, in the eyes of the state of Massachusetts, Hernandez technically died an innocent man.
Since it’s so early, many of the facts are speculated. It’s hard to determine his motives or even form a strong opinion of the whole situation when we don’t even know for sure what happened in Hernandez’s final hours.
We might never know what is rumor, and what is fabrication. Did he leave suicide notes? Was “John 3:16” really written on his forehead when he was found? Does his death mean his daughter is entitled to his multimillion-dollar estate?
No matter what, obviously his death is a shame. I feel sorry for his young daughter, his fiancée, and all of the lives that his death has affected. As Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn stated, Hernandez’s death was a “shocking and sad end to a very tragic series of events that has negatively impacted a number of families.”