Lawyer: Ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez had 'severe' case of CTE

BOSTON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez, who killed himself in April after being acquitted in his second murder trial, had a "severe case" of the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a family lawyer said on Thursday.

Relatives of the 27-year-old former athlete had asked that his brain be tested for CTE after his body was found hanging in a Massachusetts prison where he was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of an acquaintance.

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Aaron Hernandez's murder trial
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Aaron Hernandez's murder trial
FALL RIVER, MA - APRIL 7: Closing arguments in the Aaron Hernandez trial for the murder of Odin Llyod at Fall River Superior Court. Hernandez looks at the jurors as the alternates are being chosen. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Former NFL player Aaron Hernandez is seen on his home security system carrying a weapon in an exhibit shown during his murder trial in Fall River, Massachusetts March 11, 2015. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW SPORT FOOTBALL)
A still image from surveillance video displayed in court shows former New England Patriots NFL football player Aaron Hernandez (L), visiting a gas station in Canton, the night Odin Lloyd was killed, during trial in Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, February 26, 2015. Hernandez is charged in the murder of Lloyd in 2013. REUTERS/Charles Krupa/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL CRIME LAW)
Text messages between personal trainer Brian McDonough and former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez, displayed as evidence at Hernandez's murder trial, at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, February 24, 2015. Hernandez is accused of the murder of Odin Lloyd in June 2013. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW SPORT FOOTBALL)
FALL RIVER, MA - APRIL 7: Closing arguments in the Aaron Hernandez trial for the murder of Odin Lloyd at Fall River Superior Court. defense attorney James Sultan holds up a photo of Ernest Wallace in his closing argument, suggesting that Hernandez was present when Lloyd was killed by Wallace. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FALL RIVER, MA - APRIL 7: Closing arguments in the Aaron Hernandez trial for the murder of Odin Llyod at Fall River Superior Court. Defense attorney James Sultan holds a photo of the murder scene during closing arguments. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FALL RIVER, MA - APRIL 7: Closing arguments in the Aaron Hernandez trial for the murder of Odin Llyod at Fall River Superior Court. Hernandez wipes his face as he listens to the judge speak to the jury. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FALL RIVER, MA - MARCH 31: Aaron Hernandez, left, listens to testimony next to his attorney Charles Rankin as a photo of witness Darryl Hodge is displayed during the murder trial of former New England Patriots tight end at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Mass. Hernandez is accused of the June 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd. (Photo by Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez arrives in the courtroom at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts April 1, 2015. Hernandez is accused of the murder of Odin Lloyd in June 2013. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Ursula Ward, mother of the victim, reacts to the guilty verdict for former NFL player Aaron Hernandez during his murder trial at the Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, April 15, 2015. Hernandez, 25, a former tight end for the New England Patriots, is convicted of fatally shooting semiprofessional football player Odin Lloyd in an industrial park near Hernandez's Massachusetts home in June 2013. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Shayanna Jenkins, fiancee of former NFL player Aaron Hernandez, listens during the murder trial for Hernandez at the Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, April 15, 2015. Hernandez, 25, a former tight end for the New England Patriots, is accused of fatally shooting semiprofessional football player Odin Lloyd in an industrial park near Hernandez's Massachusetts home in June 2013. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter
FALL RIVER, MA - MARCH 31: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft testifies during the murder trial for former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Mass. Hernandez is accused of the June 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd. (Photo by Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FALL RIVER, MA - FEBRUARY 7: Hernandez appeared for a pre-trial hearing at Bristol County Superior Court. He chats with his lawyer Charles Rankin. Aaron Hernandez, a former New England Patriots player, pleaded not-guilty to murder and weapons charges related to the death of Odin Lloyd of Dorchester. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FALL RIVER, MA - APRIL 7: Closing arguments in the Aaron Hernandez trial for the murder of Odin Llyod at Fall River Superior Court. Hernandez looks up as his defense attorney, James Sultan shows a video of Hernandez's home as he emerged from the basement. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
ATTLEBORO, MA - JULY 24: Aaron Hernandez entered the court room. Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez appeared in Attleboro District Court in Attleboro, Mass. on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. (Photo by Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Judge Susan Garsh makes rulings about he potential testimony of prosecution witness Alexander Bradley without the jury present at the murder trial of former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts April 1, 2015. Hernandez is accused of the murder of Odin Lloyd in June 2013. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Former NFL player Aaron Hernandez stands with his defense attorneys as he hears his verdict in his murder trial at the Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, April 15, 2015. Hernandez, 25, a former tight end for the New England Patriots, is convicted of fatally shooting semiprofessional football player Odin Lloyd in an industrial park near Hernandez's Massachusetts home in June 2013. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter
Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez sits during his murder trial at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, April 6, 2015. REUTERS/Ted Fitzgerald/Pool
William Zane, of the Massachusetts state medical examiner's office, points to a mannequin while testifying about the location of bullet wounds in the body of Odin Lloyd during the murder trial of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, April 2, 2015. Zane performed an autopsy on Lloyd's body. REUTERS/Steven Senne/Pool
Former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez (L) listens as his attorneys confer during a hearing without the jury present in Hernandez' trial at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts April 1, 2015. Hernandez, 25, had a $41 million contract with the National Football League team but was dropped hours after his arrest in June, 2013 on murder and firearms charges in the death of Lloyd, who had been dating his fianc�'s sister. Hernandez, who has pleaded not guilty, faces life in prison if convicted. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Former NFL player Aaron Hernandez (L) confers with attorney Charles Rankin during his murder trial in Fall River, Massachusetts, March 24, 2015. Hernandez is accused of the June 2013 killing of semiprofessional football player Odin Lloyd. REUTERS/Aram Boghosian/Pool
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Researchers at Boston University, the leading center studying CTE, assessed Hernandez's brain, said attorney Jose Baez, who successfully defended the athlete in a double-murder case this year.

"It was the most severe case they had ever seen," Baez told reporters in Boston. "It was an advanced stage."

CTE is linked to the sort of repeated head traumas common in football that can lead to aggression and dementia.

Hernandez had a $41 million NFL contract when he was arrested at his home in June 2013 and charged with murder. Prosecution witnesses at his two trials painted a picture of a troubled man with a history of drug use and paranoid tendencies.

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Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez and her daughter
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Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez and her daughter
Shayanna Jenkins, fiancee of former NFL player Aaron Hernandez, listens during the murder trial for Hernandez at the Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, April 15, 2015. Hernandez, 25, a former tight end for the New England Patriots, is accused of fatally shooting semiprofessional football player Odin Lloyd in an industrial park near Hernandez's Massachusetts home in June 2013. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter
Shayanna Jenkins, fiancee of Aaron Hernandez, a former player for the NFL's New England Patriots football team, leaves the Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts September 6, 2013, where Hernandez was arraigned on murder and weapons charges in connection with the killing of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd in June. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW SPORT FOOTBALL)
Terri Hernandez, mother of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez and his fiancee Shayanna Jenkins watch in court during Hernandez' appearance at the Fall River Justice Center in Fall River, Massachusetts December 23, 2013. The former NFL tight end is charged in the fatal shooting of his friend, Odin Lloyd, in June 2013. REUTERS/Matt Stone/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW SPORT FOOTBALL)
Shayanna Jenkins, fiancee of former New England Patriots NFL football player Aaron Hernandez, stands during a pre-trial hearing in Fall River, Massachusetts December 22, 2014. Jenkins faces perjury charges for lying to a grand jury hearing the case against Hernandez, who is awaiting trial on charges of murdering semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd in 2013. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW SPORT FOOTBALL)
Shayanna Jenkins, fiancee of former NFL player Aaron Hernandez, testifies during his murder trial in Fall River, Massachusetts March 27, 2015. Jenkins, a key witness who was granted immunity after charges she initially lied to a grand jury investigating the case. Hernandez is accused of the June 2013 killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd. REUTERS/CJ Gunther/Pool
Shayanna Jenkins, fiancee of former NFL player Aaron Hernandez gestures during testimony in his murder trial in Fall River Massachusetts, March 30, 2015. Jenkins said she disposed of a cardboard box from their Massachusetts home at his request the day after prosecutors say he fatally shot an associate. REUTERS/Ted Fitzgerald/Pool
Shayanna Jenkins, fiancee of former NFL player Aaron Hernandez, testifies during his murder trial in Fall River, Massachusetts March 27, 2015. Jenkins, a key witness who was granted immunity after charges she initially lied to a grand jury investigating the case. Hernandez is accused of the June 2013 killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd. REUTERS/CJ Gunther/Pool
Shayanna Jenkins, fiancee of former NFL player Aaron Hernandez, testifies in his murder trial in Fall River Massachusetts, March 30, 2015. Jenkins said she disposed of a cardboard box from their Massachusetts home at his request the day after prosecutors say he fatally shot an associate. REUTERS/Ted Fitzgerald/Pool
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 12: Shayanna Jenkins sits in the courtroom for the double murder trial of her fiancee, former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, at Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on Apr. 12, 2017. Hernandez is charged in the July 2012 killings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado who he encountered in a Boston nightclub. The former NFL football player already is serving a life sentence in the 2013 killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd. (Photo by Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BRISTOL, CT - APRIL 24: Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez holds her daughter's hand as she walks into O'Brien Funeral Home for Aaron Hernandez's funeral in Bristol, CT on Apr. 24, 2017. Family and high-profile friends of Hernandez, the convicted killer and former New England Patriots star who hung himself in his prison cell last week, paid their final respects during a private funeral service in his hometown. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BRISTOL, CT - APRIL 24: Former Patriots player Brandon Spikes, second from left, walks beside Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez as he appears to cheer her daughter up as they leave O'Brien Funeral Home following Aaron Hernandez's funeral in Bristol, CT on Apr. 24, 2017. Family and high-profile friends of Hernandez, the convicted killer and former New England Patriots star who hung himself in his prison cell last week, paid their final respects during a private funeral service in his hometown. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
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A judge earlier this year vacated that conviction, because Hernandez had not exhausted all his avenues of appeal by the time he died, a move allowed by a quirk in Massachusetts law. Prosecutors are appealing that decision.

He was found not guilty in April of separate charges of fatally shooting two men outside a Boston nightclub in 2012. 

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