Attorney Jose Baez, who successfully defended Hernandez in his most recent trial, said on Thursday that the state's Chief Medical Examiner's Office had turned over Hernandez's remains to his family but retained his brain.
"The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is conducting an investigation into the circumstances of Aaron Hernandez's death, which may require further analysis of his body", Dan Bennett, secretary of public safety and security, said in a written statement.
Hernandez was found hanging by a bed sheet inside his cell at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass., early Wednesday morning and was pronounced dead the hospital about an hour later.
According to law enforcement sources, as reported by several Boston TV stations, Hernandez had "John 3:16" written with a red marker on his forehead. The center studies CTE, a degenerative brain disease that has been found in N.F.L. players and other athletes who have experienced repeated trauma to the head. The former tight end for the New England Patriots had been serving a life sentence without parole after being convicted in the June 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. "Mr. Hernandez hanged himself utilizing a bedsheet that he attached to his cell window". The recently discovered degenerative brain disease, which can only be diagnosed after death, is commonly found in former National Football League players, and the symptoms in living players are often troublesome. The district attorney's office said the official cause of death was ruled a suicide and the medical examiner would now be releasing the brain to researchers. But this week, according to a lawyer for the Hernandez family, the MA medical examiner's office briefly refused to hand Hernandez's brain over to researchers.
MA officials announced Thursday afternoon that the brain of former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez would be released after his family said it was being illegally withheld.More news: Oil prices mixed after US production seen rising
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Baez earlier on Thursday accused the state of reneging on a deal to hand Hernandez's brain over along with his body.
"Any time someone kills themselves in prison something clearly went wrong", Republican Gov. Charlie Baker of MA said, adding that he had complete faith in officials at the prison, according to The Associated Press. Such a move would have implications for civil proceedings against Hernandez's estate, according to CBS Boston.
Sources told WCVB that the correction officer who was responsible for doing the rounds that morning is now on paid leave.
The suicide left friends, family and his legal team shocked as he was acquitted of a double murder just days ago. "He was looking at forward to an opportunity for a future release".