Dispute emerges over release of ex-NFL star Hernandez's brain

BOSTON (Reuters) - A lawyer for former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez on Thursday 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 National Football League 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 state officials.

SEE ALSO: Hernandez was reportedly found dead with a Bible verse written on his forehead

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

Violent timeline shows fall of Hernandez's stardom

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Who was Aaron Hernandez? Violent timeline shows fall of NFL player's stardom
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Who was Aaron Hernandez? Violent timeline shows fall of NFL player's stardom

College years: 2007-2010

After an impressive high school football career, Hernandez was recruited to the University of Florida, where he would become one the Gators' star players on the football team while also he playing alongside Tim Tebow.

During this time, however, Hernandez was rumored to have several run-ins with the law, including use of marijuana, fighting in bars, and would later become a person of interest in shooting case in 2007.

2010-2011

Hernandez was drafted by the New England Patriots and became the youngest player in the league in 2010.

The following year he would make his first Super Bowl appearance in 2011.

2012

Police were called to his home in Hermosa Beach after reports of domestic abuse and an alleged fight between him and his girlfriend, Shayanna Jenkins.

No arrests were reported.

2013

Hernandez was arrested for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player, in June. He would immediately be cut by the Patriots and indicted by a grand jury in August of 2013.

2014

While behind bars, Hernandez faced accusations of threatening to kill a jail guard.

He would later receive a write up over the incident. 

2015

Hernandez was convicted in the murder of Odin Lloyd in April, and was later reported to have been found with a shank while in prison.

2017

Hernandez was acquitted of the 2012 double homicide of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in April

He committed suicide by hanging himself in his prison cell on April 19, 2017.

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

Baez said the family wanted Hernandez's brain turned over to Boston University's CTE center, 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.

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

SEE ALSO: Hernandez murdered in prison? Ex-NFL star's lawyer requests investigation into suicide

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 told reporters. "I have serious questions as to their ability to conduct this study."

A Boston University spokeswoman declined to 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."

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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