|Aaron Hernandez’s family to receive copies of suicide notes||04.24.17 at 1:53 pm ET|
A Bristol Superior Court judge ordered copies of the suicide notes of Aaron Hernandez to be released to his family after attorney George Leontire filed a motion Monday morning for the family to “know their loved one’s final thoughts” prior to his funeral Monday afternoon.
Speaking to reporters, via the Boston Globe, Leontire said having access to copies of the notes is a “necessary as part of the grieving process.”
Leontire wrote to the court, “the family has the right, during this grieving process, to know their loved one’s final thoughts” and that Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez had legal standing to demand them as the personal representative of his estate.
The notes reportedly were written to Jenkins Hernandez and their four-year-old daughter. There was a third note, which reportedly was written to his gay prison lover.
Hernandez’s private funeral is being held Monday afternoon in his hometown of Bristol, Connecticut.
When following the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial, it was impossible to not consider the life sentence the disgraced ex-NFL star was already serving for the 2013 shooting of Odin Lloyd. But multiple members of the jury were unaware of his violent past.
In an interview with the Boston Globe, jury forewoman Lindsey Stringer said she only learned about the Lloyd conviction in an informal post-trial conversation with Suffolk Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Locke. A technology director in her mid-30s who relocated to Boston four years ago, she was “vaguely aware” of Hernandez, but couldn’t place him. Jurors are prohibited from reading media coverage about their case or talking about their work.
“Jurors are basically living two different lives,” Stringer told the Globe. “There’s your life at the courthouse, where you’re under intense scrutiny from everyone all the time while you’re there, and then you go home to your regular life and you can’t talk about anything. ‘How was your day?’ ‘Umm . . . fine.’ ”
When the trial ended, Stringer found out several of her peers didn’t know about Hernandez’s first-degree murder conviction, either. It’s likely Hernandez’s attorneys didn’t want those with strong feelings against their client to serve on the jury, which would explain why many jurors were ignorant of his criminal record. The selection process to sit on the jury consisted of a 52-question survey, which asked respondents what they thought of people with tattoos or folks who frequent night clubs.
The prosecution’s case largely rested on Alexander Bradley, a flawed witness who’s serving a prison sentence for shooting up a club in Hartford. Bradley claims Hernandez shot him in the eye during an altercation in February 2013 –– seven months after Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado were murdered in Boston.
Stringer, who stresses the jury didn’t declare Hernandez was “innocent,” said it was difficult to believe Bradley’s version of events. The prosecution offered him immunity to testify against Hernandez, and there were several inconsistencies in his story.
“Then and now, it’s very difficult to sort through what the actual truth is of the matter,” she said. “I’m a person who might be really naive, but I really wanted to believe that every person coming through that courtroom as a witness was telling the truth. … And I don’t think that was the case for several witnesses. But I’ll never know.”
The defense repeatedly attacked Bradley’s character, saying he was the one who pulled the trigger in the drive-by shooting. The case appeared to resonate with members of the jury, who couldn’t agree on Hernandez’s level of involvement.
After the trial concluded, Stringer started to sift through the press coverage she was ordered to avoid. She hoped Hernandez would become a steady presence in his four-year-old daughter’s life, even if he remained behind bars. But those wishes were halted last week when she read about Hernandez’s suicide at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley.
“It’s just very sad and tragic, and I really just pray for the Furtado and de Abreu families and for Aaron’s daughter,” she said.
|Aaron Hernandez funeral to be held Monday, family releases statement||04.22.17 at 10:35 am ET|
The funeral for Aaron Hernandez, who committed suicide in prison on Wednesday morning, will be held Monday in his hometown of Bristol, Connecticut.
It will be a private ceremony.
Hernandez’s family released a statement on Saturday. It read: The family of Aaron Hernandez wishes to thank all of you for the thoughtful expressions of condolences. We wish to say goodbye to Aaron in a private ceremony and thank everyone in advance for affording us a measure of privacy during this difficult time.
Hernandez’s suicide came just five days after he was acquitted of a double murder, but was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Attorney for Aaron Hernandez victim’s mother wants Patriots to make payments to family||04.21.17 at 2:08 pm ET|
The Patriots may be forced to pay Aaron Hernandez’s estate millions of dollars, thanks to an obscure legal principle that says a defendant’s convictions are void if he didn’t exhaust all of his legal appeals upon his passing. Since Hernandez was in the process of appealing his first-degree murder conviction for the 2013 Odin Lloyd shooting, he’s now technically an innocent man in the eyes of the law.
The attorney for Odin Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward, said in a press conference Friday they expect to make a claim for up to the $6 million the Patriots could be obligated to hand over to Hernandez’s estate. Douglas Sheff also said he issued a friendly challenge towards the Patriots, asking them to voluntarily make payments to the family.
“We urge the New England Patriots to work with the player’s association to voluntarily make these payments of little consequence to the team, of tremendous assistance to these struggling, deserving families who are hurting, like Ursula’s,” he said, via WMUR. “That would be the best thing to do. That would be the right thing to do. And that would make the Patriots Ursula Ward’s champion.”
When speaking to reporters, Lloyd’s mother said she wants to use the lawsuit as a means to garner support for the families of homicide victims.
“I lost my best friend. I lost my son. I lost a lot of my life,’’ she said, via the Boston Globe. “I am not going to lie to you, it will help. … But even if there’s not a penny, it has nothing to do with my justice for Odin Lloyd. I’m going to use my voice.’’
The families of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado are also filing wrongful-death suits against Hernandez. The disgraced ex-NFL star was acquitted last Friday for the 2012 double murder that took their lives.
Five days later, Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell. Officials say he committed suicide.
Thanks to an obscure legal principle, Aaron Hernandez is now an innocent man in the wake of his death. That means the Patriots might owe his estate money.
Massachusetts is one of the states that recognizes “abatement ab initio,” which says a defendant’s convictions are void if he didn’t exhaust all of his legal appeals upon his passing. Since Hernandez was in the process of appealing his first-degree murder conviction for the 2013 Odin Lloyd shooting, the court’s ruling is erased –– as if the trial never occurred. The disgraced ex-NFL star was acquitted last week for a 2012 double murder.
Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell early Wednesday morning after a suicide attempt, officials say. Since Hernandez was the first active NFL player to ever be convicted of murder, and also the first player to kill himself while serving his sentence, this is an unprecedented legal situation. Attorney William Kennedy, who represented the families of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, the victims in the aforementioned double murder, told CBS Boston the Patriots might be obligated to pay Hernandez’s estate the $3.5 million signing bonus they voided following his arrest in 2013.
“At the time of his original arrest in the Odin Lloyd case, my understanding was that there was a $3.5 million bonus that we’ve made a subject of an action in the Superior Court,” he said. “We got a commitment from the Patriots that before any of that payment would be made they would notify the court to give us a chance to deal with that.”
The Abreu and Furtado families and Lloyd’s mother are all planning to pursue wrongful-death suits against Hernandez’s estate. In addition to the $3.5 million signing bonus, the Patriots could also owe Hernandez $2.5 million in guaranteed base salary.
But since the Patriots and Hernandez settled a grievance over the lost earnings in 2014, the case is likely considered closed. Attorney Joel Corry told the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin grievance settlements are seldom overturned.
“Typically when there’s a settlement, there’s some sort of catch-all language: ‘This will resolve all claims known or which could be known in the future,’ ” he said. “I haven’t seen too many settlements which don’t have some type of form of that kind of language.”
Hernandez will still be able to collect the minimum NFL pension, though it’s unknown who’s listed as his beneficiary. The former tight end collected roughly $10 million of the $40 million contract extension he signed in August 2012.
|Aaron Hernandez death officially ruled suicide, notes found in cell reportedly to fiancée, daughter||04.20.17 at 4:42 pm ET|
According to the Worcester DA, Aaron Hernandez’s death officially is a suicide.
Per a release Thursday afternoon, Hernandez was locked in his cell at 8 p.m. Tuesday night and no one entered the cell until a correctional officer observed him at 3:03 a.m. and forced his way into cell as the door was blocked with cardboard jammed into the track.
Upon entry investigators found three hand-written notes next to a bible. There was no sign of a struggle and Hernandez was the only person in the cell.
Hernandez’s brain will now be released to BU’s CTE center for investigation, per a family request.
According to Chris Villani of the Boston Herald, the notes were letters to his daughter and fiancée, saying he loved them and would see them in heaven.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
While it’s apparent the Patriots were largely ignorant of Aaron Hernandez’s turbulent off-field life, Tom Brady expressed concern about the deceased NFL star years ago.
In an NFL SoundFX video from 2011, which the New York Post recently unearthed, Brady is seen talking with Tim Tebow at the conclusion of a Broncos-Patriots matchup that year. At one point, Brady brings up Hernandez and linebacker Brandon Spikes, both of whom played with Tebow at the University of Florida.
“I’m trying to watch over Aaron and Brandon,” Brady said to the Heisman Trophy winner.
“I appreciate that, too, man,” Tebow replied. “They’re good guys.”
Before they separated, Brady said the two troubled players were “a lot to handle.”
While he was playing in college, Hernandez was questioned in connection to a shooting in Gainesville, Fla. He also allegedly punched a bouncer, despite Tebow’s reported efforts to stop him.
After falling to the fourth-round in the 2010 NFL Draft, Hernandez enjoyed three successful seasons in New England, landing a $40 million contract extension. But then it all went south.
In June 2013, Hernandez was taken into custody for the Odin Lloyd shooting. He was convicted of first-degree murder in the case and sentenced to life in prison. On Wednesday, five days after Hernandez was acquitted of a separate double murder charge, he was found dead in his prison cell due to an apparent suicide. In a statement, the Massachusetts Department of Correction said Hernandez hanged himself with a bed sheet attached to his window.
An investigation into Hernandez’s death is ongoing.
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