Aaron Hernandez's defiant days in prison: 'I'm built for this'

Aaron Hernandez in court. (AP file photo)

In the years before disgraced NFL player Aaron Hernandez took his own life in prison, he was a near-constant problem for guards, a threat to other inmates and a constant disruptive force, according to a new book. “All-American Murder,” by James Patterson and two co-authors, details Hernandez’s life behind bars at the Bristol County (Mass.) House of Corrections.

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Hernandez had been arrested in June 2013, on charges related to the death of his associate Odin Lloyd. He spent 18 months in Bristol awaiting trial, and during that time, was alternately charming and terrifying. A few examples cited in “All-American Murder” and in previous news reports:

• Hernandez once punched an inmate in the face for the transgression of staring too long at Hernandez in his cell. The inmate’s reason: he was a Patriots fan. The inmate was in the custody of a guard, and Hernandez’s assault set off a “Code Blue” that required the assistance of several officers and landed him in solitary confinement for two weeks.

• After officers wrote up Hernandez for using alleged gang signs in correspondence, Hernandez threatened to eat the disciplinary report they handed him … and then did exactly that.

• Hernandez was sent a care package of two dozen honey buns in violation of prison policy; before officers could confiscate the buns, he ate 20 of them, saving the wrappers so he couldn’t be accused of passing them to other inmates. Guards denied his request to eat the last four.

• He called one officer a “scared bitch” after the officer denied him an extra meal, and threatened to kill the officer and his family after he got out of prison. (“I did not say I was going to kill him or his family,” Hernandez later said. “I said if I see COs that act tough in jail, out of jail, I’m going to slap the [expletive] out of them.”)

• Corrections Officer Joshua Pacheco noted the ways in which Hernandez would consistently seek to get under the officers’ skin: “He is constantly kicking his cell door and screaming at the top of his lungs, utilizing profanity at times when he wants something, regardless of how minuscule it is. It is not uncommon for Hernandez to kick his cell door constantly until an officer approaches his cell merely to ask the officer for the current time. This to him is comical, causing a disruption in normal operation within the unit.”

• Hernandez had a variety of encounters with guards that tiptoed right up to the edge of threats: challenging guards’ manhood, hinting at dreams in which Hernandez had hunted the guards, and so forth. All in all, of the 10 months he was in the prison, Hernandez spent 120 days in solitary confinement. (According to a Yahoo Sports review of prison documents, Hernandez was charged with 99 disciplinary offenses and 24 major incidents during his nearly four years of prison time at two facilities.) Once, while guards were securing him in his cell, Hernandez beat his chest and defiantly proclaimed himself to be “tough. I’m built for this [expletive].”

On April 15, 2015, Hernandez was found guilty of first-degree murder, and was transferred to the maximum-security Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center an hour from Boston, and his time behind bars took an inexorably worse turn. Two years later almost to the day, Hernandez was found hanging by his bedsheets in his cell; he had been acquitted of two other murder charges just days before.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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