Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez kills himself in prison

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Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez hanged himself in his prison cell early Wednesday while serving a life sentence for murder, authorities said.
 
Hernandez, 27, was found by guards at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley just after 3 a.m., Department of Correction spokesman Christopher Fallon said in a statement. The former New England Patriots tight end was pronounced dead at a hospital about an hour later.

Coincidentally, the Super Bowl-champion Patriots will be visiting the White House to accept congratulations from President Donald Trump. A team spokesman said the Patriots are aware of Hernandez's death but the club isn't expected to comment. Team owner Bob Kraft is a longtime Trump friend. Some Patriots players intend to skip the White House visit because they oppose Trump's presidency.

Star quarterback Tom Brady will not be there, but the White House said it was notified he was dealing with a "personal family matter" and would not attend.

   Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing unit in the maximum-security state prison. He hanged himself with a bed sheet that he attached to a window, Fallon said. Hernandez tried to block the cell door from the inside by jamming it with various items, Fallon said.
 
   Fallon said he's not aware of any suicide note written by Hernandez. He said that officials had no concern that Hernandez might take his own life, and said if they had had any such worries he would have been transferred to a mental health unit.
 
   Hernandez was moved to tears on Friday after he was acquitted of the 2012 fatal shootings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston. Before his acquittal, Hernandez on Wednesday was seen blowing kisses to the little girl he fathered with fiancTe Shayanna Jenkins. Cameras captured the tender exchange.
 
   But, Hernandez was still serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for his conviction in the 2013 shooting of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was dating his fiancee's sister.
 
   He was tried but acquitted in the slayings of de Abreu and Furtado, whom prosecutors contended were gunned down after one of the men accidentally spilled a drink on Hernandez in a Boston nightclub. The jury in that case found Hernandez not guilty of first-degree murder but convicted him of unlawful possession of a gun, and the judge sentenced him to an additional four to five years in prison -- separate from his existing life sentence.
 
   Hernandez's lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
 
   Massachusetts State Police remain on the scene investigating the death.
 
   Hernandez grew up in Connecticut and played for the Patriots from 2010 to 2012. The team released him in June 2013, shortly after he was arrested in Lloyd's killing.
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The Massachusetts maximum security prison where Aaron Hernandez apparently hanged himself has seen its share of troubles since it opened nearly two decades ago.
 
   There have been several other inmate suicides at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, several attacks on prison staff and several instances of inmate-on-inmate violence. The most famous one was the strangulation of convicted pedophile priest John Geoghan by another prisoner.
 
   The prison, built for $105 million, was hailed as the nation's most technologically advanced when it opened in 1998. It has more than 1,000 cells.
 
   It is named for two former prisons workers killed in 1972 during an aborted escape attempt.

 

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