April 21, 2017 02:43PM
By MICHELLE R. SMITH
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) — The mother of the man ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez murdered said Friday that his suicide has reopened painful wounds. Hernandez’s family, meanwhile, was asking a judge to order prison officials to preserve evidence so they can investigate the circumstances of his death.
Ursula Ward, whose son, Odin Lloyd, was slain in 2013, told reporters she still forgives Hernandez and that she prays he found peace after hanging himself in prison.
But, she added, that she still feels a “tremendous loss.”
“I lost my son, the love of my life,” Ward said. “I’ll never ever see him again.”
Ward’s lawyer, Doug Sheff, said he has issued “a friendly challenge” to the New England Patriots and the NFL Players Association to voluntarily give Ward whatever money Hernandez might still be owed. She is suing Hernandez’s estate for unspecified damages in a wrongful-death case.
Sheff said he thinks the team might have owed Hernandez up to $6 million. The suit seeks to recover that plus proceeds from the eventual sale of Hernandez’s $1.3 million home, a Hummer and any other assets.
Asked if he believed Hernandez had any money actually left after years of litigation, Sheff replied: “Good question. We wonder that ourselves.”
Hernandez, a former Patriots tight end, was serving a life sentence for Lloyd’s murder when he hanged himself early Wednesday.
His fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez, filed a complaint on behalf of the daughter she had with Hernandez that would compel the state to keep evidence related to his death. A New Bedford judge was due to hear the request Friday afternoon.
“The preservation of evidence regarding the circumstances of Aaron Hernandez’s death is crucial to a full, complete, and transparent investigation,” lawyer George Leontire wrote in court papers.
The complaint asks that prison officials be barred from altering or destroying any potential evidence, including Hernandez’s writings, medical records and video and audio recordings. It also lists photos, clothes that Hernandez was wearing, interviews with guards and fellow inmates and any recorded phone calls involving Hernandez in the month before his death.
Hernandez was found hanging from a bedsheet Wednesday, days after being acquitted in a 2012 double homicide case. He was serving a life term for the killing of Lloyd, who was dating Jenkins Hernandez’s sister.
Another of Hernandez’s lawyers said that he would ask a court to have that murder conviction erased. John Thompson said Friday he would file the necessary paperwork in Bristol County, the jurisdiction where Hernandez was tried and convicted in 2015.
Thompson didn’t say when he’ll file the request. The district attorney would be able to challenge it.
Courts in Massachusetts and a number of other states customarily vacate the convictions of defendants who die before their appeals are heard.
All first-degree murder convictions in Massachusetts trigger an automatic appeal. Hernandez’s appeal was still in its early stages and hadn’t yet been heard when he hanged himself.