Jose Baez, an attorney who represented Aaron Hernandez during his trial for double-homicide, and continues to represent his family following his death Wednesday morning, has said the family plans to donate his brain to Boston University for CTE studies. CTE is a degenerative brain disease associated with symptoms ranging from impulse control, to violent behavior, to suicidal thoughts. It’s believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head, like those regularly sustained in football, but it can only be diagnosed post mortem. According to Baez, the Boston Medical examiner is “illegally retaining possession” of the brain, making it unclear whether or not it will actually be donated.
Speaking to a group of reporters outside the medical examiner’s office earlier today, Baez claimed the doctor reneged on a previously-agreed upon procedure for the removal of Hernandez’s brain by Boston University physicians, and transportation back to their laboratory. According to Baez, this was the plan in place yesterday, but a doctor with the medical examiners office determined their facilities were better equipped to remove and study the brain than BU’s facility. To this point, the medical examiners office has declined to take questions from reporters.
Baez—who, in taking this public, continues to advocate on behalf of his late client—went on to say the family has no confidence in this medical examiners office, “specifically given the history of this case, the history of missing evidence, the history of misconduct, and the issues that came out in this trial, of certain things that were done by the medical examiners office which did not follow proper protocols, things were missed.”
Update 5:18 p.m.: According to USA Today, the medical examiner has ruled Hernandez’s death a suicide—specifically asphyxia by hanging—and since cause of death has now been determined, they will release his brain to Boston University.