Aaron Hernandez fought, got emblazoned with tattoos, and flirted/feuded with pen pals before his nearly four years of incarceration came to a violent end on Wednesday.
Hernandez had been in custody since June 2013 when he was arrested and, ultimately, convicted in the death of one-time friend Odin Lloyd. Hernandez received a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He was discovered hanging by a bed sheet inside his prison cell in Massachusetts and died at a hospital Wednesday.
“I have a TV in my cell! And yes I still root for my squad and still love all the ones I love,” Hernandez wrote in a letter published by TMZ in February 2016.
Hernandez’s reality, however, was likely much bleaker than he let on in letters and even those close to him, according to Wall Street Prison Consultant founder Larry Levine.
“Prison is a boring place,” said Levine, who served 10 years in federal prison and now prepares those who face jail time. “It’s like (expletive) Groundhog Day. Everybody in there is looking forward to their out date. Hernandez knew he was never getting out.”
Here’s what we know about Hernandez’ time behind bars:
Hernandez was disciplined for his involvement in a fight at the same maximum-security facility, the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center, in May 2015, CNN reported. Hernandez served as a lookout for another prisoner, who had gone into another cell where the two inmates fought.
Later that year, Hernandez was found with a shank-like weapon, according to multiple published reports. Hernandez, who had been in general population area of the facility, was placed in the segregated unit of the prison as a result.
Hernandez was back in general population when he was found in his cell, the door blocked with various items to impede prison personnel’s entry.
Hernandez also faced an assault charge after he allegedly attacked an inmate inside the Bristol County jail in 2014 as he awaited the start of his first murder trial.
“I’ve always sort of known Aaron Hernandez to be somebody who’s been able to completely control, almost like a mental trap, things that he let in and let out,” Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson told WEEI on Wednesday. “I was talking with my staff people, saying I’m wondering, and of course I’m not a psychologist, I don’t have any background in it, but I do think he had some sociopathic tendencies.
“In addition to which, I wonder, that for all of the time, certainly all of the time that he was here, he never showed much in the way of emotion. It was always sort of very controlled. He was controlled about everything. He had a magnetic personality and knew how to use it to manipulate and get things. But more importantly, he just never really was allowing himself to feel any sort of emotion.”
Hernandez, who was already well-inked before his arrest, received some more tattoos in prison.
Those new tattoos were studied by courtroom observers each time he appeared before a judge.
The more recent tattoos included the words “Lifetime,” a possible nod to his sentence from the Lloyd case. He also had tattoos depicting recently fired guns, something prosecutors were allowed to show the jury during Hernandez’s recent trail that concluded last week. Hernandez was acquitted on two murder charges and convicted on a firearm-related charge.
Hernandez spent some of his time responding to letters he’d received.
In one of those letters obtained by TMZ, Hernandez ripped into a female pen pal he had corresponded with previously and went on to criticize Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
“Tie a cinderblock to your ankles and jump in a deep body of water,” Hernandez wrote.
Then he touched on the apparent fractured relationship with Kraft.
“Fake (expletive) non loyal Kraft who told me he loved me every time he seen me but obviously shows his word ain’t (expletive),” Hernandez wrote.
(Kraft was a prosecution witness in the Lloyd trial.)
Hernandez was also flirtatious in some other correspondence. He drew pictures of nude women in response to at least two letters from 2013 and 2014.
Hernandez’s brother, Jonathan, detailed to Sports Illustrated last July what it’s like to visit his brother at Souza Baranowski Correctional Center, located about 40 miles west of Boston.
“Aaron walks in wearing a two-piece gray prison suit with a white T-shirt underneath. But a guard puts him in number 13, two down from the wall. The brothers are suddenly caught in a slapstick routine—Aaron sees Jonathan in number 12 and goes there while Jonathan sees Aaron at 13 and goes there—and they get a laugh out of it. But beneath the comedy lies another little indignity: They are supposed to be in seat number 13, meaning that, in a mostly empty room, they have been seated immediately adjacent to two other people. Any hint at privacy has been erased.”
Hernandez’s longtime fiancée, Shayanna, and the 4-year-old daughter the couple share have also visited Hernandez, according to published reports. Hernandez and Shayanna weren’t allowed to marry after he was initially arrested over fears she would attempt to invoke spousal privilege at the first trial. She still took his last name and there have been no indications that two had married before his death Wednesday.
Contributing: Kevin Spain
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