A convicted murderer whose early life included starring as a tight end for the Florida Gators and later the New England Patriots, Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell early Wednesday, according to corrections department officials.
Hernandez, 27, hung himself with a bed sheet that was attached to a window in his cell. This occurred just days after Hernandez was acquitted in a separate double murder trial stemming from a July 2012 incident and reacted to the decision by crying in court, hugging his attorneys and family.
He was previously found guilty of murder in the first degree for the June 2013 slaying of Odin Lloyd and was serving a life term. Hernandez was planning to appeal that conviction.
Hernandez killed Lloyd in an industrial park less than a mile from his North Attleboro, Massachusetts, home. An autopsy revealed that Lloyd was shot six times.
Though there was a mountain of circumstantial evidence connecting Hernandez to the killing, the prosecution was unable to uncover the murder weapon or any DNA evidence to place Hernandez at the scene. The prosecution also struggled to pin a motive to Hernandez.
He was also found guilty on five other counts including carrying a firearm without a license, carrying a large-capacity firearm (two counts), possession of a firearm without a Firearms Identification card and possession of ammunition without an FID card. The three-month trial included more than 130 witnesses, only a handful of which were called by the defense.
After starring for the Gators for three seasons and helping lead Florida to a national championship, Hernandez was selected as a fourth-round pick by the Patriots and was a tremendous one-two punch at the tight end position with Rob Gronkowski. He had been signed to a five-year, $40 million contract extension in 2012, just a year before the murder.
“Absolutely no chance he took his own life,” said Hernandez agent Brian Murphy on Twitter. “Chico was not a saint, but my family and I loved him and he would never take his own life.”
OnlyGators.com will update this story shortly.