Ex-NFL star Hernandez's family wants death scene evidence preserved
By Joseph Ax
April 21 (Reuters) - The family of former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez will ask a judge on Friday to order prison officials to preserve evidence collected after he was found dead in his cell on Wednesday from an apparent suicide.
The evidence is needed to ensure a full investigation into his death, according to a complaint filed on Wednesday by Hernandez's fiancee on behalf of their daughter.
A hearing has been scheduled for Friday afternoon in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Investigators have formally ruled Hernandez's death a suicide. It remains unclear why the 27-year-old hanged himself at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Worcester County, where he was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of an acquaintance.
His death came just days after he was acquitted at trial of separate double-murder charges.
Authorities said on Thursday that three handwritten notes were found near a Bible in his cell, though their contents were not made public.
Hernandez, a tight end for the New England Patriots, was considered one of the NFL's best at his position when he was arrested in June 2013 for murder.
His lawyers are expected to ask a court to vacate his 2015 murder conviction. Under Massachusetts state law, convictions are typically vacated for defendants who die before their appeals can be heard.
Hernandez's appeal was still pending at the time of his death.
Massachusetts officials said on Thursday his brain will be returned to his family so they can donate it to Boston University's CTE center, which studies chronic encephalopathy. The condition is linked to repeated traumas to the head that can lead to aggression and dementia.
Researchers have identified CTE, which can only be diagnosed post-mortem, in the brains of several deceased football players. (Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bernadette Baum)