The body of the 27-year-old former athlete was found hanging from a bed sheet at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass. Hernandez was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of an acquaintance but on Friday had been found not guilty of killing two other people. He says Hernandez would have been transferred to a mental health unit if there was any concern about his well-being.
He was a productive tight end for the Patriots for three seasons, catching 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns in his second year to help the team reach the Super Bowl.
The attorney is calling for a "transparent and thorough investigation" into the death of his client.
But, Hernandez was still serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for his conviction in the 2013 shooting of Odin Lloyd, who was dating his fiancee's sister.
The department said the former NFLer was in a single cell in a general population unit.
Guards found Hernandez shortly after 3 a.m. Wednesday at the state prison in Shirley, Correction Department spokesman Christopher Fallon said.
Prosecutors claimed he gunned the two men down after one accidentally spilled a drink on him in a nightclub - and then got a tattoo of a handgun and the words "God Forgives" to commemorate the crime. "Those who love and care about him are heartbroken and determined to find the truth surrounding his untimely death".
Despite the official statement, Hernandez's lawyer doesn't believe it.
Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey, a college teammate of Hernandez's, said on Instagram: "To my friend my brother!" Less than a week prior to his death, Hernandez was acquitted of double-murder charges in the 2012 shooting deaths of Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu.
He was alone in his cell and "attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items".
Hernandez previously played with the Patriots from 2010 to 2012.
MA prison officials say former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez has hanged himself in his cell and has been pronounced dead at a hospital. He was pronounced dead at 4:07 a.m.
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