Questions abound in aftermath of National Football League star Hernandez's death

MA officials on Thursday were preparing to release the brain of New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez to his family for scientific study the day after he was found hanged in his prison cell, a death investigators formally ruled a suicide.

The District Attorney investigating the death said Hernandez's brain would be released to his family now that an investigation of the body by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner had been completed.

State police are probing the suicide of convicted killer and ex-New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez in a MA prison this morning, and his legal team is vowing its own investigation.

Guards found Hernandez just after 3 a.m., Correction Department spokesman Christopher Fallon said. He said officials had no reason to believe Hernandez might take his life, and if they had had had any such worries, he would have been transferred to a mental health unit.

The state medical examiner said the cause of death was axphyxia by hanging, District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said in a statement Thursday.

Hernandez's lead attorney in his most recent trial, Jose Baez, said the "family and legal team is shocked and surprised at the news of Aaron's death" and vowed to conduct his own investigation regarding the situation.

He died nearly exactly two years after he was sentenced to life without parole for murdering a semi-pro football player in 2013 and five days after he was acquitted of double murder in a separate Boston killing in 2012. A legal technicality redeemed Hernandez, at least for the record, in death.

Late last week, Hernandez was found not guilty of killing Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, two Boston men who were shot to death as they waited at a stoplight in the early morning of July 16, 2012.

His friend says he'll remember Hernandez as a happy, goofy man who was always trying to make people laugh. Baez and Hernandez's family believe that the former football standout wouldn't have killed himself.

Hernandez was serving a life sentence without possibility of parole for the 2013 slaying of Odin Lloyd. The Patriots released him hours after his arrest in connection to the murder.

January 9, 2015: Hernandez goes on trial for murder in Lloyd's killing. Hernandez also gets engaged to his girlfriend of five years, Shayanna Jenkins, that month and the young family moves into $1.3 million home that Hernandez purchases in North Attleborough, Massachusetts. "Keep smiling because I know Aaron and Dad are both smiling down on you (and) us right now".

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