BOSTON (AP) — A jailhouse friend of Aaron Hernandez says prison officials denied the former NFL star’s request for a cellmate months before he hanged himself.
David Wedge, a spokesman for Kyle Kennedy’s attorney, said Wednesday the two inmates at the maximum security the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, had asked to be cellmates last September. He said the request initially was approved, but then denied.
Wedge didn’t say why the request was denied, and a prison spokesman declined to comment on inmate housing requests.
Kennedy’s attorney, Lawrence Army Jr., was to speak later Wednesday about how the two inmates were connected.
Army has claimed one of three suicide notes Hernandez left in his cell before he hanged himself last week was addressed to Kennedy, a 22 year old Uxbridge resident who is serving a prison sentence following his 2015 arrest on armed robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon, escaping a municipal lockup, speeding and other charges.
Army has requested the note be turned over to this client, who has not yet seen it.
But prison officials have declined to comment on the nature of the notes, including who they were addressed to. Hernandez’s lawyer says no note was left to any inmate.
Meanwhile, the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center remains on lockdown.
Prison officials told the Boston Globe on Wednesday that the prison has been on lockdown — with inmates not allowed to leave their cells and visiting hours cancelled — since Monday. The Globe reports the heightened security measures are part of a prison-wide search for drugs and other contraband.
State Department of Corrections spokesman Christopher Fallon didn’t elaborate, but said the facility will remain locked down for the duration of the search.
Hernandez hanged himself April 19 in his cell using a bedsheet. Funeral services were held Monday in his hometown of Bristol, Connecticut.
He had been serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in the 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd, a Boston man who had been dating his fiancee’s sister.
In other developments, a Massachusetts judge is set to hear arguments in a request to vacate Hernandez’s conviction in the Lloyd case following his sudden death.
Judge E. Susan Garsh announced Wednesday that she’ll hold a May 9 hearing at Bristol Superior Court in Fall River.
Hernandez’s lawyers formally requested to dismiss his first-degree murder conviction Tuesday. The Bristol County district attorney’s office, which prosecuted the case, has said it intends to challenge the request. It has until May 1 to file its opposition memo.
Under a long-standing Massachusetts legal principle, courts customarily vacate the convictions of defendants who die before their appeals are heard.
Hernandez hanged himself just days after he was acquitted of fatally shooting two Boston men in 2012 and as his lawyers were appealing his conviction in the Lloyd murder.
Garsh had been the judge in that 2015 trial.
Associated Press reporter Denise Lavoie in Boston contributed to this report.
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