BOSTON — Aaron Hernandez hinted about suicide weeks before he was found hanging by a bedsheet in prison last week, according to a jailhouse friend who once sought to share a cell with the former NFL star.
Lawrence Army Jr., an attorney for inmate Kyle Kennedy, said Wednesday that Hernandez wrote in a letter to his client: "I think I'm going to hang it up."
The 22-year-old, who is serving an armed robbery sentence, didn't take the comments seriously at the time, his lawyer said.
The remark came sometime in March, during Hernandez's trial in the killings of two men in Boston in 2012. The former New England Patriots tight end was acquitted in the case five days before his suicide.
"I miss my friend," Kennedy said in a statement provided by Army. "I would like to send my condolences to his fiancee, his mother and his daughter."
Hernandez had been serving life without the possibility of parole for a third murder — the 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd, a Boston man who had been dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee. He killed himself April 19, and funeral services were held Monday in his hometown of Bristol, Connecticut.
Army said Kennedy, of Uxbridge, was "stunned and saddened" by his close friend's death. He said Kennedy and Hernandez were acquainted before prison.
In September 2016, the two had even requested to be cellmates, Army said. The attorney said the request was denied because of the "size difference" between the two men. A prison spokesman declined to comment on the decision.
Army said Kennedy also is entitled to see one of three handwritten notes Hernandez left when he died because Kennedy believes it was intended for him.
Hernandez's lawyer has said no note was left to any inmate. Prison officials haven't commented on the notes, which were turned over to Hernandez's family, along with other writings found in the cell.
Kennedy also is seeking a $47,000, custom-made watch that he says Hernandez verbally gifted to him on his birthday last summer, his lawyer said.
Meanwhile, the Souza-Baranowski prison remains on lockdown with inmates not allowed to leave their cells and visiting hours cancelled . State Department of Corrections spokesman Christopher Fallon confirmed the lockdown has been in place since Monday and will remain in effect while officials search for drugs and other contraband.
In other developments, a Massachusetts judge scheduled arguments on a request to vacate Hernandez's conviction in the Lloyd case. Judge E. Susan Garsh announced Wednesday that she'll hold a May 9 hearing in Fall River.
On Tuesday, Hernandez's lawyers asked that his first-degree murder conviction be dismissed. The Bristol County district attorney's office, which prosecuted the case, has said it intends to challenge the request. It has until May 1 to file papers making its case.
Under a long-standing Massachusetts legal principle, courts customarily vacate the convictions of defendants who die before their appeals are heard.
Associated Press writer Denise Lavoie in Boston contributed to this report.
Philip Marcelo, The Associated Press