Aaron Hernandez's lawyer thinks there were a lot of untruths spread about his client, who died by suicide last year in a Massachusetts prison while serving a life sentence for murder.
Jose Baez, the lawyer for the former New England Patriots tight end, said in an interview with Fox News that the end of Hernandez's life was happy and that he seemed to have hope after being acquitted of a separate double murder charge. Baez—who maintained in the interview that Hernandez was not guilty of murder—claimed the public's apparent misconceptions led him to participate in a documentary series on the Oxygen channel about his former client.
"After his death, I can tell you it really disturbed me how many people were throwing out stories and saying certain things that were not only factually inaccurate, but just outright abusive," Baez told Fox News. "I thought and I felt, and I still do to this day, that the real story has to get out there… No one has ever captured the true Aaron Hernandez."
Baez believes the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)—a dangerous disease that has plagued football players who have suffered from concussions and subconcussive impacts—killed Hernandez. CTE has been known to dramatically shift a person's personality and cause a decline in impulse control, aggression and depression. Other former NFL players who died by suicide, such as Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, were found to have suffered from CTE as well.
"It was a complete and total shock to me," Baez said of Hernandez's death in the Fox News interview. "And unfortunately, CTE is not something that can be diagnosed in the living. So until that happens, we'll never know who is walking around with this silent killer."
Researchers at Boston University studied Hernandez's brain after his death at 27 years old. They said it was the most severe CTE they had seen for someone his age, and likely would affected his decision making and judgment, The Washington Post reported. The damage was so severe there were reportedly large holes in parts of his brain and the frontal lobe—responsible for problem-solving, judgment and impulse control—had was covered with dots of tau protein.
"We’ve never seen this in our 468 brains, except in individuals some 20 years older," said Ann McKee, the head of Boston University's CTE Center, according to the Post.
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