Aaron Hernandez‘s fiancée believes the disgraced NFL star did not kill himself in his prison cell, despite authorities’ determination otherwise, she said this week.
When he was found dead on April 19, Hernandez, 27, was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, and his appeal was still in its early stages. He had recently been acquitted of double-murder charges in the 2012 shooting deaths of two men outside a Boston nightclub.
Citing his recent acquittal and pending appeal, Jenkins-Hernandez said, “That would make me doubt that he took his own life. He was very positive, so excited to come home.”
She added that Hernandez had recently spoken with their 4-year-old daughter, Avielle Janelle Jenkins-Hernandez, after his acquittal and told her, “Daddy’s gonna be home.”
Jenkins-Hernandez spoke with her fiancé the night before his death, she told McGraw. “The feedback I was getting from our last talk had nothing to do with suicidal thoughts,” she said.
Hernandez was found unresponsive in his cell at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Lancaster, Massachusetts, about 3 a.m. on April 19. According to Massachusetts Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Henry N. Nields, the manner of death was suicide and the cause was asphyxia by hanging.
A report by the Massachusetts State Police confirmed that Hernandez had written the Bible verse John 3:16 in ink on his forehead and in blood on his prison cell.
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On Dr. Phil on Monday, Jenkins-Hernandez said, “None of the findings are very believable to me” and Hernandez had never mentioned that Bible verse to her.
She added that she feels she won’t know what happened “until we can get in there and do our own investigation and I actually trust where these answers are coming from.”
Worcester County, Massachusetts, District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. told reporters that there was no sign of a struggle in Hernandez’s cell.
When McGraw pointed out that surveillance footage from the prison showed that nobody had entered his cell between when Hernandez entered it and when he was found dead, Jenkins-Hernandez said, “I believe there’s some uncounted time. I don’t think things were done properly.”
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With Hernandez’s death, his conviction for Lloyd’s murder was voided because of a little-known legal doctrine in Massachusetts that vacates convictions if a defendant dies before their direct appeal is complete.
Because he is no longer legally a convicted murder, some believe that Hernandez’s estate is entitled to $6.5 million in held contract money by the New England Patriots, who released him in 2013 after his arrest in Lloyd’s death.
In her interview with McGraw on Monday, Jenkins-Hernandez said Hernandez didn’t leave a will, but that she believes his daughter is entitled to his estate and that she herself should serve as its trustee.
“As her mother, absolutely,” Jenkins-Hernandez said. “I don’t think there’s anyone better.”
Her exclusive two-part interview on Dr. Phil continues on Tuesday. Check local listings for times.