Family asking judge for order on Aaron Hernandez evidence

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NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — Aaron Hernandez’s family members have asked a judge to order Massachusetts prison officials to preserve evidence so they can investigate the circumstances of his death.

A medical examiner ruled the former New England Patriots player hanged himself in his cell while serving a life sentence for murder.

Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez, filed a complaint Wednesday on behalf of the daughter she had with Hernandez. 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 already serving a life term for the 2013 killing of Odin 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.