Corrections officers at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts found Aaron Hernandez, former New England Patriots tight end and convicted murderer, hanged in his prison cell around 3 a.m. this morning with the Bible verse “John 3:16” written on his forehead in blood. Though attempts were made to save his life, they proved to be unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead at 4:07 am. The official statement released from the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center said that Hernandez had hanged himself with a bed sheet he had tied to his cell window, and explained that he had blocked the door from the inside by “jamming the door with various objects”.
Hernandez was convicted of murder in 2015 after he was believed to have shot and killed Odin L. Lloyd, who was the boyfriend of Hernandez’s fiance’s sister. Lloyd’s body was found in a pit not far from Hernandez’s home with six bullet wounds. Though no weapon was ever found, nor did any witness come forward, prosecutors made a case against Hernandez based on a testimony his fiance gave about the night of the murder. The jury deliberated for six days before finding Hernandez guilty, a decision Hernandez was in the process of appealing. He was to spend life in prison without parole.
However, because his appeal process was not yet complete, Hernandez’s death will essentially nullify the case. According to Massachusetts law, abatement ab initio, criminal convictions are invalid if the convicted has not yet had the opportunity to appeal and clear his name at the time of death. Abatement ab initio, though unknown by many, has erased several convictions in Massachusetts history. Martin W. Healy, chief legal counsel for the Massachusetts Bar Association said, “Aaron Hernandez goes to his death an innocent man under the eyes of the law… It’s as if the case never existed.”
Some are doubtful about the nature of Hernandez’s death, and an investigation will take place to uncover what the true nature of his death was. Hernandez’s lawyer, former agent, and cousin all publicly agreed that it was unlikely that Hernandez took his own life because he was extremely adamant and persistent about the appeal process and his chance to clear his name.
The Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center has come under recent fire due to the death of Hernandez, which is not unlike previous deaths of inmates. Over the years, the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center has had problems with inmates attacking both corrections officers and other inmates. Many question the security of the center and how safe inmates and guards actually are. Hernandez’s death raises the question of the effectiveness of the prison system and how correctional facilities are working to “correct” wrongs done by inmates.