WORCESTER (CBS) — A lawyer for the last person to see Aaron Hernandez alive said his client will explain the nature of his relationship with the ex-NFL star at a later date.
Kyle Kennedy, 22, a friend and fellow inmate at the Souza-Baranowski Correction Center in Shirley, claims he was the last person to see Hernandez alive before the former New England Patriot hung himself in his cell April 19.
There have been unconfirmed allegations about the nature of the relationship between Kennedy and Hernandez–but Kennedy’s attorney, Larry Army Jr., said Kennedy wants to elaborate on that relationship himself.
“I’m not at liberty to discuss the nature and the extent of that relationship,” Army said. “My client has made it very clear that he will, in fact, talk about that relationship in nature and extent, but he wants those words to come directly from his mouth to the world.”
In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Army said that Kennedy believes one of the three letters Hernandez wrote prior to his suicide was intended for him.
Copies of the letters and notes left behind by Hernandez just before his death were ordered to be turned over to Hernandez’s family just an hour before he was buried in a private ceremony in Connecticut Monday.
Army said parts of one of those letters were “incoherent” because they might have been written in prison code intended for Kennedy to understand.
“I was told by a source that the letter and parts of the letter didn’t make a lot of sense,” he said. “When I explained that to my client, he said there’s a language that’s spoken and in written form in a prison that is made that way so that it appears incoherent and so that others don’t understand what the meaning is.”
Army said the letter in question is currently being held by the Worcester District Attorney’s office, and that they have requested a copy but haven’t gotten one yet.
Army also said Hernandez wrote to Kennedy’s father and siblings in the past.
“He is my brother, and he always will be,” Army said Hernandez wrote to Kennedy’s father.
Army provided part of a copy of one of the letters, which he said shows Hernandez’s signature.
“They’re very personal letters, and they speak very candidly of the close relationship and mutual respect that my client and Mr. Hernandez had for one another,” Army said. “Mr. Hernandez refers to my client in both letters not by his legal name only, but also by his prison name of Pure.”
He said Kennedy did not know or suspect Hernandez was going to kill himself, but that Hernandez did write in a letter to Kennedy three weeks before his suicide, “I think I’m gonna hang it up lol.”
“My client was stunned and saddened by the news of the suicide,” Army said. “My client quite frankly told me, that he thought it was a joke, that he thought that the people in the jail were playing a game on him because they knew of the closeness of the relationship between the two.”
Army said the two knew each other before being imprisoned together, but he did not elaborate. He said the two were “close friends who spent a great deal of time together in prison.”
“What my client told me was that Aaron Hernandez was one of the most powerful forces as a person that he’s ever known,” Army said. “That Aaron could take any situation no matter how bad it seemed and turn it into a positive, and was always smiling.”
Army said that, around September 2016, Hernandez and Kennedy requested to be cell mates. He said that, though the request was initially approved, it was later denied, because of the difference in size between the two men, Kennedy claims.
Army said Kennedy also claims Hernandez promised him a watch worth about $47,000, and told him he would make arrangements to get the watch to him when he got out of prison. He said Kennedy wants that watch now. The WBZ I-Team reported on the watch last week.
That watch was custom-made for Hernandez in Las Vegas and, Army said, promised to Kennedy on his 22nd birthday last August.
Kennedy was placed on suicide watch after Hernandez was found dead, following the facility’s policies and not because he was a risk to himself. Army said that when it was reported two days ago that Kennedy was taken off suicide watch, he was immediately placed back on it.
“Unfortunately for my client, suicide watch at this particular institution means he’s put intoa cell with nobody present, with nothing present, no books, no utensils to write, no utensils, no radio,” Army said. “He is stripped of all of his clothes, and he has a police officer who sits at the doorway and monitors his every move.”
He said Kennedy remains in good spirits, though he is “perplexed” as to the reason why he is still under suicide watch.
He said the isolation is keeping Kennedy from the things he has been trying to do to make himself a better person, such as substance abuse treatment.
Kennedy himself released a statement Wednesday, that said, “I miss my friend, Aaron Hernandez. I’d like to send my condolences to his fiancee, his mother, and his daughter. I would like the media to respect the privacy of my family. This is a private matter that doesn’t concern them.”
Army said he’ll hopefully be meeting with Kennedy at the prison again on Thursday.
Hernandez attorney Jose Baez dismissed Kennedy’s claims Wednesday afternoon.
“Our team is doing serious legal work,” Baez said in a statement. “We don’t have the time to stop our efforts and respond to every convicted felon that has something to say about Aaron Hernandez. Quite frankly I’m surprised more inmates have not come forward to make money off the media.”
Baez said earlier in the week that none of the letters were addressed to Kennedy. He went even further, addressing speculation about the content of the letters.
“Rumors of letters to a gay lover, in or out of prison, are false,” Baez said in a statement. “These are malicious leaks used to tarnish someone who is dead.”
Baez urged those spreading “malicious untruths” about the letters to stop.
This comes as Hernandez’s attorneys try to clear his name. They filed a motion Tuesday to throw out the 2013 murder conviction in the killing of Odin Lloyd.
Under a long-standing Massachusetts legal principle, courts customarily vacate the convictions of defendants who die before their appeals are heard.
Souza-Baranowski Correction Center remains on lockdown as guards search for drugs and contraband. Sources said Hernandez was smoking synthetic marijuana the night before he committed suicide, though lawyers say this is not unusual for prisoners.
Legal expert Jeffrey Denner said, “Six months from now everything will be back to normal. There will be knives in there and shanks and weapons and there will be drugs.
“Where there’s a demand, there’ll be a supply,” he added.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports