Battle for Aaron Hernandez's brain video

REUTERS

Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez was found dead inside his prison cell in an apparent suicide, according to the Massachusetts state Department of Corrections.

A lawyer for former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez has accused the Massachusetts medical examiner's office of reneging on a deal to turn over the athlete's brain to a Boston laboratory a day after he was found dead in his prison cell.

The 27-year-old former NFL star hung himself early on Wednesday in the prison cell where he was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of an acquaintance, dying less than a week after he was cleared of a separate double-murder charge, according to officials in the US state.

Attorney Jose Baez, who successfully defended Hernandez in his most recent trial, said on Friday (NZ time) that the state's Chief Medical Examiner's Office had turned over Hernandez's remains to his family, but retained his brain.

Aaron Hernandez during one of his court appearances.
REUTERS

Aaron Hernandez during one of his court appearances.

"The family should be able to have the dignity of a proper service in the proper possession of Aaron's remains," Baez said after exiting the medical examiner's office.

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Baez said the family wanted Hernandez's brain turned over to Boston University's CTE centre, which studies chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition linked to the sort of repeated head hits common in football that can lead to aggression and dementia later in life and led to a billion-dollar lawsuit against the NFL.

When a Boston University representative arrived to pick up the brain for testing, they were denied possession, Baez said.

He said officials from the chief medical examiner's office told him they wanted to prepare the brain for study.

"This is not amateur hour," Baez said. "I have serious questions as to their ability to conduct this study."

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A Boston University spokeswoman declined comment. A spokesman for the chief medical examiner's office did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Local media, citing unnamed law enforcement sources, reported on Thursday that Hernandez's body was found with a reference to a Bible verse written on his forehead, perhaps in blood.

Baez declined to comment on those reports saying, "I'm not going to address something so ridiculous as that."

Where to get help

Lifeline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 354

Depression Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 111 757

Healthline (open 24/7) - 0800 611 116

Samaritans (open 24/7) - 0800 726 666

Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Youthline (open 24/7) - 0800 376 633. You can also text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email talk@youthline.co.nz

0800 WHATSUP children's helpline - phone 0800 9428 787 between 1pm and 10pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 10pm on weekends. Online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm every day at www.whatsup.co.nz.

Kidsline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 754. This service is for children aged 5 to 18. Those who ring between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays will speak to a Kidsline buddy. These are specially trained teenage telephone counsellors.

Your local Rural Support Trust - 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)

Alcohol Drug Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 787 797. You can also text 8691 for free.

 - Stuff

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