Disgraced ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez commits suicide in prison

MANILA, Philippines – Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez committed suicide in prison, the Boston Globe reported on Wednesday, April 19.

In a statement from the Department of Correction, the 27-year-old Hernandez was "discovered hanging in his cell" at around 3:05 am at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts. He was pronounced dead an hour later after he was brought to a hospital.

Hernandez was said to have used "a bedsheet that he attached to his cell window." The statement said there was also an attempt to "block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items."

The former New England Patriots player had been acquitted of killing two other men in Boston in 2012.

Hernandez was accused of killing Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in a drive-by shooting in July 2012 in Boston's South End after an altercation outside a night club.

The former NFL player pleaded not guilty in the Massachusetts trial.

Last Friday, April 15, the jury acquitted Hernandez on 7 of 8 charges after reportedly deliberating for 37 hours.

He was convicted only on an illegal firearms charge. 

The other charges against Hernandez included armed assault with intent to murder, assault, and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Hernandez was overcome with emotion as the verdict was read, moving his head from side to side, wiping his eyes and weeping.

"We're disappointed," Suffolk County district attorney Daniel Conley told reporters on Friday. "The jury just didn't see it our way."

The decision came almost exactly two years after the former New England Patriots tight end was sentenced to life in prison without parole for murdering Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player in June 2013.

"That's certainly comforting to the families," said Conley, adding that Hernandez will "spend the rest of his natural life behind bars."

Defense lawyer Ronald Sullivan told reporters that Hernandez was wrongly accused.

"We are extraordinarily thankful to the jury," Sullivan said.

The 2015 conviction cemented a spectacular fall from grace for Hernandez, who once had a $40 million, 5-year contract with the Patriots.

The team dropped Hernandez just hours after his arrest on June 26, 2013, 9 days after Lloyd was found dead. – with reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com