Before his death, Aaron Hernandez told his fiancee that rumors that he was gay were not true, and he left behind no letters for another inmate who some have claimed was his lover, Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez said in an interview broadcast on Tuesday afternoon.
In the second part of a two-day “Dr. Phil” appearance taped last week, Jenkins Hernandez told host Phil McGraw that reports about Hernandez’s sexuality were embarrassing and hurtful. She said she asked Hernandez directly about the reports, which he denied.
The former New England Patriot was serving a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd when he was found hanging in his cell at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center April 19 — less than a week after he was acquitted of two other murders.
“He was very much a man to me,” Jenkins Hernandez said in interview clips posted online Tuesday morning. “It’s just not something that I saw. It’s not something that I believe. It’s just not him.” The swirling rumors and reports about Hernandez’s sexuality, at times laced with homophobia and absent any clear connection to his criminal charges or suicide, have drawn concern from gay rights groups.
In the wake of Hernandez’s death, reports named another inmate, Kyle Kennedy, as Hernandez’s lover. A lawyer for Kennedy, Larry Army Jr., has declined to describe the nature of their relationship, but said the men were very close. Army claimed at a Worcester news conference in April that Hernandez had arranged for Kennedy’s family to receive a $50,000 watch and left a suicide note for him in his cell.
In the interview airing Tuesday, Jenkins Hernandez said she had never heard of Kennedy before the reports emerged, and said Hernandez left him nothing.
“I don’t know who this Kyle Kennedy is. I’ve never heard of him, honestly. Aaron has never mentioned him,” Jenkins Hernandez said. The notes Hernandez left behind, Jenkins Hernandez said, were addressed to her, to the couple’s daughter, and to the defense team.
“There’s nothing for Kyle Kennedy,” Jenkins Hernandez said. “It’s nonexistent.”
She called discussion of the watch allegedly intended for Kennedy “foolish,” and dismissed his claims as “a crock of bull.”
Kennedy, in a statement e-mailed to the Globe by a spokesman on Tuesday, said that although he never saw a note addressed to him, “I have reason to believe it was in fact intended for me.”
Kennedy said “the press” first reported that a letter was left for him, so his lawyer sought a copy.
“The story about who this letter was sent to has changed several times but based upon the close relationship that I had with Aaron, it is highly likely that it was in fact intended for me,” he said, and restated his demand that any such letter be turned over.
Jenkins Hernandez, a fixture at her fiance’s trials, said she hasn’t spoken to Hernandez’s family since the funeral.
“We don’t see eye-to-eye,” Jenkins Hernandez said. “No one stood by his side but me. That’s where my frustration lies.”
After his death, Hernandez’s conviction was vacated under a little-used legal maneuver known as abatement ab initio, scrubbing the murder from his record because his appeal was still open when he died. Asked whether she believed Hernandez killed himself so she might have a chance to collect millions of dollars from the Patriots — a prospect that appears deeply unlikely — Jenkins Hernandez demurred.
“I can’t speculate on what he was thinking or why he may or may not have done it. Whatever the case is, it’s just unbelievable to me,” she said, before conceding “anything is a possibility.”
Prosecutors believe Jenkins Hernandez helped dispose of the gun that killed Lloyd in 2013, and surveillance video from the couple’s North Attleboro home showed Jenkins Hernandez lugging a large package out the back door.
In the interview, Jenkins Hernandez said she never looked inside the package, and preferred not to know what was in it.
“I’m glad I didn’t” look inside the box, she said. “I don’t want to know anything that can haunt me, in a sense. I’d rather be in the dark with a situation like that.”Nestor Ramos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NestorARamos.