The Latest: Lawyer: Hernandez talked to fiancee before death

BOSTON (AP) The Latest on the suicide in prison of ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez (all times local):

4:40 p.m.

Authorities in Massachusetts say Aaron Hernandez's brain is being turned over to university researchers now that they've ruled his death in prison a suicide.

The Worcester County district attorney says the state's chief medical examiner had withheld some tissue samples from the ex-NFL star's brain as part of the effort to confirm he took his own life.

Now that that's not in question, officials say the brain will be released to Boston University's Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center in accordance with the wishes of Hernandez's family.

The center is a leader in research into the effects of concussions on the brain - something the NFL has been preoccupied with in recent years.

Earlier Thursday, Hernandez's lawyer Jose Baez had accused the medical examiner of ''illegally'' holding the brain.

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4:25 p.m.

Aaron Hernandez's death in prison has been officially ruled a suicide.

That determination comes from the district attorney's office in Worcester County, Massachusetts.

Authorities say investigators found three handwritten notes next to a Bible inside the maximum-security prison cell where the ex-NFL star was found hanging early Wednesday.

They said Thursday there was no sign of a struggle and that the former New England Patriots tight end was alone. Investigators say Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for a 2013 murder, blocked access to his cell from the inside by jamming cardboard into the door tracks.

They say he was locked in his cell at about 8 p.m. and that no one entered until a guard saw him just after 3 a.m. and forced his way in to try to save Hernandez.

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4 p.m.

Aaron Hernandez's top lawyer says he has retained prominent medical examiner Dr. Michael Baden to conduct an independent autopsy.

Jose Baez says Baden is on tap to examine the remains of the ex-NFL star, a convicted murderer who was found hanging in his prison cell Wednesday in Massachusetts.

Baden is a former chief medical examiner for New York City. He has performed autopsies in numerous high-profile cases, including the death of Michael Brown, the black 18-year-old who was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.

Hernandez was serving a life sentence for a 2013 slaying. He had just been acquitted last week in a 2012 double murder in Boston.

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3:25 p.m.

A top Massachusetts official says the medical examiner will release Aaron Hernandez's brain to Boston University for research as soon as the investigation into his death is completed.

Secretary of Public Safety Dan Bennett tells The Associated Press that ''no one is going to stand in the way of the family's wishes.''

Hernandez's lawyer, Jose Baez, is accusing the medical examiner of ''illegally'' holding the brain of the former NFL star, who was found hanged in his prison cell early Wednesday.

Baez says Hernandez's family had arranged for Boston University to study the former New England Patriots tight end's brain as part of its concussion research.

Bennett says the death investigation may require further analysis of Hernandez's body, and that's why the brain is being kept for now.

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3 p.m.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker says he won't draw any conclusions about the investigation into Aaron Hernandez' apparent suicide in prison until an investigation is completed.

Baker told reporters Thursday that any time someone takes their own life in prison ''something clearly went wrong.''

But he says he has full confidence in the state Department of Correction. He says he isn't aware of any staff at the maximum-security prison where Hernandez was serving a life sentence for murder being reprimanded as a result of the death.

The NFL star was found hanging from a bedsheet in his cell early Wednesday.

The governor acknowledged there are ''a million rumors'' flying around, but none has been substantiated and he cautions against jumping to conclusions.

Baker, a Republican, says Massachusetts has made progress in reducing prison suicides in recent years. Even so, he says one death is one too many.

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2:05 p.m.

Aaron Hernandez's lawyer is accusing Massachusetts' chief medical examiner of ''illegally'' holding the brain of the ex-NFL star who was found hanged in his prison cell.

Jose Baez told reporters Thursday that Hernandez's family had arranged for Boston University to study the former New England Patriots tight end's brain as part of its concussion research.

The medical examiner released Hernandez's body to a funeral home earlier Thursday. But Baez says the office has not returned the brain.

He says the family will go to court if necessary and that it will be seeking an independent autopsy. The medical examiner's office didn't immediately comment on the brain dispute and hasn't released the results of its autopsy.

Hernandez was found hanging in his cell early Wednesday at a maximum-security prison where he was serving a life sentence for a 2013 murder.

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1:40 p.m.

The home where Aaron Hernandez lived when he was accused of murder is still on the market.

Hernandez was a star player for the New England Patriots when he bought the house not far from Gillette Stadium for $1.3 million in November 2012 through a corporation.

Town property records show it was sold outright to Hernandez for a dollar in November 2013, several months after he was arrested for the murder of Odin Lloyd.

The 5,800-square-foot house with 5 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms was put on the market for $1.5 million in March 2016. The asking price is now $1.3 million.

Attorneys for Lloyd's mother have placed an attachment on the house as part of a lawsuit against Hernandez. The Internal Revenue Service has a $117,395 tax lien on the property.

Hernandez died in an apparent suicide in prison on Wednesday.

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12:05 p.m.

Massachusetts prison officials, state police and prosecutors have declined to release any records related to Aaron Hernandez's apparent suicide in prison.

The officials are citing their ongoing investigation into the ex-NFL star's death, which was discovered early Wednesday morning.

They have yet to release the incident report, officers' logs, video footage from the area around Hernandez's cell and other details about prison protocol, despite repeated requests from The Associated Press.

Correction Department spokesman Christopher Fallon says the agency won't comment until the investigation is completed. State police spokesman Dave Procopio also cites the ''active'' investigation.

Jose Baez, Hernandez's attorney in his recent double murder trial, has also declined further comment.

Hernandez was serving a life sentence for a 2013 slaying. He was acquitted last week in the Boston double murder case.

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11:45 a.m.

One of Aaron Hernandez's lawyers says the ex-NFL star spoke with his fiancee hours before his apparent suicide in prison.

The Boston Globe says Hernandez attorney Ronald Sullivan wrote in an email Thursday that the former New England Patriots tight end was on the phone with Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez about seven hours before he was found hanging in his Massachusetts cell early Wednesday.

The couple had a 4-year-old daughter together. Hernandez blew kisses to the girl two days before his acquittal in a double-murder case.

Hernandez was serving a life sentence for a 2013 slaying.

Hernandez's body was released to the Faggas Funeral Home in Watertown, Massachusetts, after an autopsy.

Owner Nicole Faggas tells the Globe there are no plans to hold services there. She says the body will be shipped to another location, but she declined to say where.

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12:10 a.m.

Aaron Hernandez's death in prison - just days after the former NFL star was cleared of additional murder charges - remains shrouded in mystery.

Why now? Is there more to the story? What happens to his estate?

Authorities offered few answers after the 27-year-old Hernandez was found hanging from a bedsheet Wednesday in his cell in a maximum-security prison in Massachusetts. He was serving a life sentence for the 2013 slaying of a onetime friend.

His death came hours before his former New England Patriots teammates visited the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl victory. Hernandez died five days after a jury acquitted him in the 2012 shooting deaths of two men whom prosecutors alleged he gunned down after one accidentally spilled a drink on him at a Boston nightclub.

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