The defence attorney for Aaron Hernandez says his family are “shocked and surprised” after the former NFL star’s apparent suicide on Wednesday morning.

Former New England Patriots star Hernandez, 27, was discovered by corrections officers in his prison cell this morning.

A statement from the Massachusetts Department of Corrections declared: “On April 19, 2017 Aaron Hernandez was discovered hanged in his cell by corrections officers at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts at approximately 3:05am.

“Lifesaving techniques were attempted on Mr. Hernandez and he was transported to UMASS Leoinster where he was pronounced dead at 4:07am by a physician at the hospital.

“Mr Hernandez was in a single cell in general population housing unit. Mr Hernandez hanged himself utilizing a bed sheet that he attached to his cell window. Mr Hernandez also attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items.”

Aaron Hernandez hugs his defense attorneys
Aaron Hernandez hugs his defence attorney on Friday 
Hernandez blows a kiss to family on Friday

Hernandez was found guilty of the first-degree murder of Lloyd by a court in Massachusetts in 2015, a verdict which carries the mandatory penalty of life with no prospect of parole.

However, on Friday he had been acquitted of two other murders in 2012. Jurors spent 37 hours before deciding he was not guilty of killing Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, after prosecutors alleged Hernandez opened fire on a car after being ‘disrespected’ after one of the men bumped into him and spilled his drink in a Boston nightclub.

Despite that acquittal, Hernandez was convicted of a single charge: unlawful possession of a gun. He was subsequently sentenced to an additional four to five years in prison – separate from the life sentence he had been serving.

Now a statement from his defence attorney, Jose Baez, on behalf of his family, declares: “The family and legal team is shocked and surprised at the news of Aaron’s death.

 Aaron Hernandez
Aaron Hernandez, arrested in 2013 
Aaron Hernandez
The ex-NFL star had no chance of parole unless an appeal was made 

“There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible. Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence.

“Those who love and care about him are heartbroken and determined to find the truth surrounding his untimely death. We request that authorities conduct a transparent and thorough investigation.

“The Baez Law Firm will participate in its own examination into this tragic event and update the media and public on its findings when they become available.”

Under an old Massachusetts legal principle called “abatement ab initio,” Hernandez’s conviction will be voided, as the case hadn’t yet gone through the appeals process, chief legal counsel to the Massachusetts Bar Association Martin W. Healy told The Boston Globe on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, in the Odin Lloyd matter, for the family, there won’t be any real closure,” Healy told The Globe. “Aaron Hernandez will go to his death an innocent man.

“In the court of public opinion, Hernandez will be judged accordingly. But in a court of law, under legal principles, [Hernandez] died an innocent man.”