The lawyer representing an inmate who says he was close with Aaron J. Hernandez in prison demanded the release of a note the former football star allegedly intended to leave to his client, despite persistent denials that such a note exists.
At a news conference in Worcester on Wednesday, Larry Army Jr. said his client, a 22-year-old Worcester-area man named Kyle Kennedy, had been told by someone inside Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center that a note to him was found in the cell where Hernandez hanged himself last week. And Kennedy was sure, Army said, that Hernandez would have left him a note because of the closeness of their relationship.
Representatives for the Hernandez family have said no such note exists. Kennedy’s name does not appear anywhere in the collection of writings delivered to the family following a judge’s order on Monday, a person close to the investigation said.
Army said the intended recipient of the note might not be obvious, because the note was likely written in some sort of inscrutable jailhouse jargon. And it may have referenced Kennedy only by his prison nickname: Pure.
Kennedy’s name has emerged at the center of media reports focused on Hernandez’s sexual identity inside the prison where he was serving a life sentence. But Army declined to describe the nature of their relationship. Kennedy alone would do that, he said — which is not possible while Kennedy is on suicide watch at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Facility.
Despite reports that Kennedy was the last person to see Hernandez alive, Army said his client had been removed from the prison population for violating jail rules the day before Hernandez was found dead. He said Kennedy was stunned by the death of his friend, who recently wrote in a note to Kennedy, “I am going to hang it up LOL,’’ which Kennedy initially considered a joke. He is now not so certain it was an attempt at humor, Army said.
Army said the two men requested to become cellmates last year, but the request was denied. He said Hernandez wrote letters to Kennedy’s family, and he showed a photograph of what he said was the last line of one such letter. Another photograph showed Hernandez wearing a watch that Army said was worth $47,000. Hernandez, Army said, had arranged to give the watch to Kennedy’s family.
Army provided little evidence for the various claims. The watch was never delivered, he said, and he declined to produce copies of any additional letters from Hernandez to Kennedy or his family.
The rumors and reports about Hernandez’s sexual orientation have shaken his already grieving family, a lawyer representing his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, said at a court hearing on Monday. His suicide also triggered a prolonged search of the prison where he hanged himself with a bed sheet, which for the third straight day was in lockdown Wednesday. Authorities have said they are searching the complex for contraband.
While Hernandez killed himself in the G-2 unit in the prison inside his single-person cell on April 19, the entire prison has been in lockdown since Monday, meaning none of the inmates are allowed out of their cells except in limited circumstances, according to the Department of Correction.
Hernandez’s lawyers have also formally launched an effort to void his first-degree murder conviction in Bristol County, a move made legally possible by the suicide of the former New England Patriots star while his case was still on appeal.
Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III’s office has said it will challenge the request, which must be approved by a Superior Court judge.