By Michael Harthorne, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2017 7:19 PM CDT
(NEWSER) – Aaron Hernandez’s brain is being turned over to his family after his lawyer accused authorities in Massachusetts of “illegally” keeping it from them, NBC News reports. According to Reuters, the former NFL player’s family plans to donate his brain to the CTE center at Boston University, where it will be used for research. They also want to know if Hernandez had CTE and if that could explain his violent behavior, the Washington Postreports. CTE, which is caused by repeated blows to the head, can only be diagnosed after death. It can cause aggression, dementia, and more while also making sufferers more likely to take their own life.
Hernandez killed himself in his prison cell while serving a life sentence for murdering an acquaintance in 2013. He was acquitted in an unrelated double murder less than a week ago. Authorities had turned Hernandez’s body over to his family but held onto his brain. Hernandez’s attorney, Jose Baez, accused authorities of keeping the brain to destroy evidence, but the district attorney’s office says they needed to hold onto the brain until the chief state medical examiner made an official ruling on Hernandez’s death. Now that asphyxiation by hanging has been confirmed, the brain is being turned over to the family.