Netflix se­ries ex­am­ines ‘per­fect storm’ that felled NFL star

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - As­so­ci­ated Press

By Wil­liam J. Kole

BOS­TON >> More than two years af­ter he killed him­self in his prison cell, for­mer NFL star Aaron Her­nan­dez’s story still fas­ci­nates — and now it’s head­ing back to the small screen.

Netflix is re­leas­ing “Killer In­side: The Mind of Aaron Her­nan­dez” on Jan. 15. The three-part doc­u­men­tary ex­am­ines the me­te­oric but trou­bled — and vi­o­lent — rise and fall of the late New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots tight end.

A teaser for di­rec­tor Geno McDer­mott’s film opens with chilling au­dio of a col­lect call Her­nan­dez made to his fi­ancee, Shayanna Jenkins. Her­nan­dez can be heard say­ing: “My whole body’s shak­ing right now.” Jenkins asks, “What hap­pened?” and Her­nan­dez re­sponds: “You know my tem­per.”

In July, Her­nan­dez’s es­tate set­tled a wrong­ful death law­suit brought by the fam­i­lies of two men he was ac­quit­ted of killing. Pros­e­cu­tors al­leged Her­nan­dez fa­tally shot Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Fur­tado in 2012 af­ter a con­fronta­tion at a night­club. Her­nan­dez killed him­self in prison in 2017 while serv­ing a life sen­tence for the 2013 mur­der of semi-pro­fes­sional foot­ball player Odin Lloyd.

Her­nan­dez’s death came just a few days af­ter he was ac­quit­ted of most charges in the dou­ble mur­der case. Af­ter his death, doc­tors found the 27-year-old Her­nan­dez had ad­vanced chronic trau­matic en­cephalopa­thy, a de­gen­er­a­tive brain dis­ease linked to con­cus­sions and other head trauma com­mon­place in the NFL.

Tran­scripts the Bris­tol County sher­iff re­leased last year of more than 900 jailhouse tele­phone con­ver­sa­tions Her­nan­dez had with fam­ily and friends showed he ex­pected to be re­leased from jail and re­sume his foot­ball ca­reer shortly af­ter his ar­rest for Lloyd’s killing. Her­nan­dez had a five-year, $40 mil­lion deal with the Pa­tri­ots at the time of his ar­rest.

McDer­mott and pro­ducer Terry Leonard say the lat­est film will fea­ture some of those phone calls as well as court­room footage and in­ter­views with those clos­est to Her­nan­dez and Lloyd. The project, they said in a state­ment, “ex­am­ines the per­fect storm of fac­tors lead­ing to the trial, con­vic­tion, and death of an ath­lete who seem­ingly had it all.”

Film­mak­ers and au­thors have had no short­age of ma­te­rial to work with in re­count­ing the story of the hand­some, po­lite ath­lete from Bris­tol, Connecticu­t, who was a high school stand­out and an All-Amer­i­can at the Univer­sity of Florida be­fore his three sea­sons with New Eng­land and sub­se­quent fall from grace.

A state po­lice re­port of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Her­nan­dez’s death said the player wrote “John 3:16,” a ref­er­ence to a Bi­ble verse, in ink on his fore­head and in blood on a cell wall. The verse says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only be­got­ten Son, that whoso­ever be­lieveth in him should not per­ish, but have ev­er­last­ing life.”

A Bi­ble was nearby, open to John 3:16, with the verse marked by a drop of blood. And au­thor­i­ties said Her­nan­dez was a mem­ber of the Bloods street gang and had been dis­ci­plined for hav­ing gang para­pher­na­lia in prison.

Her­nan­dez’s story has al­ready in­spired a doc­u­men­tary aired on Oxy­gen, a “48 Hours” spe­cial and books by best­selling au­thor James Pat­ter­son and Her­nan­dez’s de­fense lawyer, Jose Baez.

ELISE AMEN­DOLA - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2012 file photo, New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots tight end Aaron Her­nan­dez speaks in the locker room at Gil­lette Sta­dium in Foxborough, Mass.

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