The autopsy of Aaron Hernandez confirmed initial reports that the 27-year-old former NFL star committed suicide.
According to Massachusetts Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Henry N. Nields, the manner of death was suicide and the cause was asphyxia by hanging. The autopsy was completed on Thursday morning.
Hernandez’s suicide comes five days after the former New England Patriots tight end was acquitted of double murder charges in the deaths of two men outside a Boston nightclub in 2012. The jury found him not guilty of homicide, but convicted him of one count of possessing an unlicensed weapon.
Despite last week’s acquittal, Hernandez was still serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, his fiancée’s sister’s boyfriend. He was not eligible for parole. Hernandez had planned to appeal that conviction.
Under an obscure legal doctrine in Massachusetts, Hernandez’s murder conviction in Lloyd’s killing will actually be voided, as he had not exhausted all of his appeals upon his death, Martin Healy, the chief legal counsel for the Massachusetts Bar Association, told PEOPLE.
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Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. told reporters that there was no sign of a struggle in the jail cell where Hernandez died. State Police Detectives and Crime Scene Service Troopers have investigated the scene. They found three handwritten notes next to a Bible.
The Medical Examiner’s office released the body to the family yesterday afternoon. The family says that they will donate Hernandez’s brain to an academic center that researches the links between brain disease and football.