Aaron Hernandez's family spoke out about the former football player's death, saying that there is no other reason besides brain damage that he might have died by suicide.
"If he killed himself, it is the only explanation," a source close to the former New England Patriots tight end's family told the Daily Mail. The family thinks the convicted felon who was serving a life sentence had brain damage from his days playing football.
He was found dead in his cell on April 19.
To find out more about the state of the deceased football star's brain, Hernandez's family agreed to donate the organ to scientific research, Hernandez family lawyer Jose Baez said at a press conference. He said that it was "completely agreed upon" that a university would send somebody to harvest the organ on the morning of April 20, but medical examiner Dr. Henry Nields said that he would perform the tests himself and has not yet released the brain, causing a conflict of plans.
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"Our position is that they are holding Aaron's brain illegally," said Baez, explaining that depending on the way the medical examiner handles the brain, it could prove useless for the university once they receive it. "The family does not have confidence in the medical examiner's office ... They are being extremely cagy. That suggests they do not have the proper protocols in place."
Though the medical examiner ruled that Hernandez died from self-imposed asphyxia, some people have speculated that there might have been foul play involved in the prison cell hanging, which occurred just days after Hernandez had been acquitted of a double murder and was in the middle of appealing a separate murder for which he had been convicted.
"Any time someone kills themselves in prison something clearly went wrong," Republican Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts said, adding that he had complete faith in officials at the prison, according to The Associated Press.
Baez said on April 20 that the Hernandez family was mourning the unexpected death, though he did not comment on specifics, including a Boston Globe report that the prisoner spoke on the phone with fiancee Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez hours before his death, notes AP.
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"The family and legal team is shocked and surprised at the news of Aaron's death," Baez said in a statement. "He was looking at forward to an opportunity for a future release. We are heartbroken and we are determined to find the truth. We are looking into the process and will conduct a transparent investigation into his untimely death."