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9104/24/2017 13:35
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Funeral set for former NFL star Aaron Hernandez
Funeral set for former NFL star Aaron Hernandez

The funeral of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez will take place on Monday, five days after he was found hanged by a bed sheet in a Massachusetts prison in what state officials have ruled a suicide.

Hernandez had been a rising star in the National Football League with a $41 million contract when he was arrested in June 2013 and charged with murdering an acquaintance in an industrial park not far from the Patriots' stadium.

He was serving a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole after being found guilty of that murder when he hanged himself in a prison cell, according to state officials. His death occurred just days after his acquittal of a separate 2012 double murder.

The funeral will be in Bristol, Connecticut, where Hernandez grew up.

"We wish to say goodbye to Aaron in a private ceremony and thank everyone in advance for affording us a measure of privacy during this difficult time," the family said in a statement ahead of the funeral.

The lawyer who successfully defended the 27-year-old former athlete in the double-murder trial has vowed to conduct his own investigation into the circumstances of Hernandez's death at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Lancaster, Massachusetts, west of Boston.

Three handwritten notes were found near a Bible in Hernandez's cell, although their contents have not been made public.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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