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Aaron Hernandez's fiancee expresses doubt that suicide was the cause of the former New England Patriots star's death in an exclusive interview with Dr. Phil McGraw that will air next week.
Speaking out for the first time since Hernandez's death in prison on April 19, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez said Hernandez was upbeat in their final conversation only hours before he was found dead in his cell at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts. His official cause of death was ruled a suicide by authorities.
"She does not believe he killed himself, surprisingly, because the evidence is pretty overwhelming,'' McGraw told TODAY's Joe Fryer on Friday in an exclusive preview.
Hernandez, 27, was serving a life sentence for murder but had been acquitted on a separate charge of murdering two men only days before his death. He also was appealing his conviction for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a friend and semipro football player, in 2013.
In a two-part interview that will air Monday and Tuesday on "The Dr. Phil Show," Jenkins-Hernandez spoke about her final conversation with her fiancee and father of their 4-year-old daughter.
"He was very positive, so excited to come home,'' she told McGraw. "I spoke to him the night before and he was so, you know, 'Daddy's going to be home, and I can't wait to sleep in bed with you guys, and I can't wait to just hold you and love you.'
"I just know the feedback that I was getting from our last talk had nothing to do with suicidal thoughts."
Hours later, she received a phone call from prison officials informing her of Hernandez's death.
"At first, I thought it was a hoax,'' she said. "I thought that, you know, this was some cruel person. I thought it was a cruel person playing a trick on me."
An inmate told authorities Hernandez had mentioned a rumor that if an inmate dies in prison with an open appeal on his case, he is acquitted of his charge and will be deemed not guilty, according to a report by the Massachusetts Department of Corrections.
That is exactly what happened, as a judge agreed on Tuesday to erase his conviction in Lloyd's murder since he was in the middle of an appeal review. Lloyd's family is still pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court while appealing the judge's decision.
The ruling could mean that Hernandez's estate, which includes Jenkins-Hernandez and her daughter, may possibly recoup millions of dollars from his Patriots contract that was never paid after he was released by the team.
In a note to Jenkins-Hernandez found in his cell, Hernandez wrote "I told you what was coming indirectly!" and "(YOU'RE RICH)."
However, Jenkins-Hernandez is not optimistic about money coming to his estate, especially given the lawsuit by Lloyd's family.
"She thinks there could be financial trouble, not financial windfall,'' McGraw told Fryer.
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