Funeral held for Aaron Hernandez; family to get suicide notes

Aaron Hernandez timeline (1:36)

Aaron Hernandez's football career began with a great deal of promise, but ended when he was sent to prison. He ultimately took his own life. (1:36)

BRISTOL, Conn. -- Aaron Hernandez's family and friends bid farewell to the former NFL star at a private funeral Monday, and a judge ordered that three suicide notes he left be turned over to his fiancée by the time he is buried.

Dozens of mourners turned out for the invitation-only service in Hernandez's hometown of Bristol, including his mother and fiancée, several of his defense attorneys, and friends from his playing days with the University of Florida and the New England Patriots.

At the request of Hernandez's fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, a Massachusetts judge ruled that the district attorney must provide the family with copies of three notes Hernandez left next to a Bible before killing himself. An attorney for Jenkins-Hernandez said authorities had refused to share the contents of the notes until the investigation into Hernandez's death was complete.

The judge said Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.'s office can redact information from the notes before producing copies, to protect the ongoing investigation.

A jailhouse friend of Aaron Hernandez says one of three notes the former NFL star left in his cell before killing himself was addressed to him.

Lawrence Army, a lawyer for inmate Kyle Kennedy, said late Monday that he has requested the note be turned over to his client, who has not yet seen it.

Prison officials didn't immediately comment.

Army declined to describe Kennedy's relationship to Hernandez but said through a spokesman that Kennedy was not his cellmate and had been placed on suicide watch at the maximum-security prison in Massachusetts as a precaution. Army said Kennedy is no longer on suicide watch.

Authorities have said Hernandez left the notes before he hanged himself Wednesday, but they have declined to say who they were addressed to or what the notes said.

Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence in a 2013 murder, killed himself last week, just days after being acquitted in a 2012 double slaying.

At the funeral home, two men in suits checked IDs as guests drove up the driveway. Police closed a street outside to traffic, and television news crews were stationed in a lot across the street. At one point, Hernandez's mother, Terri, stepped out ahead of the service to smoke a cigarette on the funeral home's front porch.

The guests included twin NFL players Mike and Maurkice Pouncey; free-agent linebacker Brandon Spikes; prominent medical examiner Dr. Michael Baden, whom Hernandez's family retained to perform an independent autopsy; and at least one of Hernandez's defense attorneys.

A spokeswoman for the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association says the family is planning to have Hernandez's remains cremated. The family in a statement asked for privacy as they mourn and thanked people for offering condolences.

Hernandez's family expressed thanks to the public for its empathy and understanding. Ronald Sullivan, one of Hernandez's lawyers, read a statement Monday thanking people for their "thoughtful expressions of condolences.''

Sullivan said Hernandez's family appreciates being able to say their final goodbyes in privacy.

"They love him and they miss him,'' he said.

Hernandez hanged himself in his cell last Wednesday. He had just been acquitted of murder charges in the shooting deaths of two men in Boston in 2012.

Hernandez was in prison for killing semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, who was dating Jenkins-Hernandez's sister.

After the Massachusetts medical examiner ruled the death a suicide, Hernandez's brain was taken to Boston University, where scientists will study it for any signs of repeated trauma suffered during his years of playing football.

A judge on Friday ordered key evidence preserved, granting a request from Jenkins-Hernandez so the family can investigate the circumstances of his death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.