Hours after Massachusetts corrections officials announced that Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell of an apparent suicide, his lawyer has called for a "transparent and thorough" investigation into whether the ex-NFL star was murdered instead.
Attorney Jose Baez, who has been representing the former New England Patriot star, released a statement on Wednesday saying that both his family and legal team were "shocked and surprised at the news of Aaron's death."
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"There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible," Baez continued in the statement. "Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence."
"We request that authorities conduct a transparent and thorough investigation," he added.
Baez also announced plans to open its own investigation into the "tragic event" and report on the findings.
According to a TMZ report, Baez and Hernandez's inner circle believe he might have been murdered either "by inmates or the folks who run the prison."
Hernandez had been serving a life sentence without parole after being convicted of murder, but had been acquitted of a separate 2012 double murder last week.
"Mr. Hernandez hanged himself utilizing a bed sheet that he attached to his cell window," the state corrections commission said in a statement on his death. "Mr. Hernandez also attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items."
According to the Associated Press, assistant deputy commissioner of communications Christopher Fallon said that they had no reason to suspect Hernandez planned to take his own life in the days leading up to his death.
The same AP report also notes that officials did not immediately find any suicide note.