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Aaron Hernandez’s brain to be donated to CTE study after DA confirms suicide

The family of Aaron Hernandez, shown in 2012, wants his brain donated to a CTE Center. (Winslow Townson/Associated Press)

The brain of Aaron Hernandez, will be released to Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center, the Worcester County District Attorney’s office confirmed Thursday. This comes in light of the confirmation that the former New England Patriots tight end indeed committed suicide in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass., early Wednesday morning.

The DA’s statement noted the brain had been temporarily withheld “until the cause and manner of death was determined.” The rest of Hernandez’s remains, however, were given the go-ahead to be released.

This caused a brief controversy earlier in the day when Hernandez’s lawyer Jose Baez accused the medical examiner of “illegally” withholding Hernandez’s brain, which the family had requested be donated to Boston University’s CTE Center. At issue is whether Hernandez’s violent behavior and mood swings could be partly attributed to CTE, a degenerative nerve disease found in the brains of those who have had repeated or severe hits to the head.

CTE, a brain degeneration disease, has been found in the brains of deceased NFL Hall of Famers. Here's what you need to know about it. (Video: Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

Aaron Hernandez reportedly had John 3:16 Bible verse written on his forehead

“They’re being vague about what their intentions are,” Baez said (via the Boston Globe) before the DA released its statement. “It’s literally a destruction of evidence issue. There would be no reason for them to withhold the brain.”

“The culture of misconduct and the culture of negligence that goes on in this town is befuddling,” continued Baez, who represented Hernandez in a double-murder trial in which he was found not guilty last week. “It’s unbelievable that they would engage in this type of conduct, especially when everyone’s watching.”

In its statement on Thursday, however, the DA’s office explained what had happened, noting the chief medical examiner needed the brain tissue to confirm the death was a suicide and that the cause was “asphyxia by hanging.”

“Now that the cause and manner of death have been determined, the brain will be released,” the statement confirmed.

Hernandez’s body was taken to a funeral home in Watertown, Mass., but the owner told the Boston Globe that there were no plans to hold the funeral there.

Aaron Hernandez was no innocent bystander in a bloodstained life

The body of the 27-year-old Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, was discovered shortly after 3 a.m. Wednesday by officials at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass. Officials say he hanged himself using a bedsheet, although Baez and Hernandez’s agent have called for an investigation, saying that Hernandez was not in a suicidal frame of mind.

About seven hours before his death, he spoke with his fiancee and mother of his 4-year-old daughter, according to one of his lawyers, who did not divulge what he and Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez discussed.