NEW BEDFORD — The long-time fiancee of Aaron Hernandez may file a negligence lawsuit against state prison officials for failing to prevent his suicide, her lawyer said Friday .
Attorney George Leontire raised that possibility during a brief hearing in Bristol Superior Court, where Judge Thomas McGuire issued an order requiring the Department of Correction to preserve evidence related to the death of the former New England Patriots star.
Leontire requested the order on behalf of Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez. She is the personal representative of the Hernandez estate — and the mother of his 4-year-old daughter.
“We are very concerned about the loss of evidence in this case,” Leontire said during the hearing.
He wrote in an earlier court filing that Hernandez’s family plans to “investigate all of the circumstances” of his death.
Leontire said in court that Jenkins-Hernandez could bring a civil action against the state for “negligent supervision or negligence.”
Hernandez was found hanging in his cell at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center early Wednesday. Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early’s office said Thursday that the medical examiner had ruled Hernandez’s death a suicide.
Early’s office also said Hernandez was locked into his cell at 8 pm Tuesday and that no one else entered it until a guard forced his way in at 3:03 am.
Leontire said in court Friday that the time lag between checks was an “extraordinary violation” of DOC procedure.
The lawyer also lashed out at state officials for leaking information about Hernandez’s purported suicide notes “and all these other salacious things” to the media, without contacting his family first.
“We don’t know the status of those suicide notes,” Leontire said. “We don’t know what those suicide notes say, if they are suicide notes.”
Mary Murray, a DOC lawyer, said there was no need for a court order preserving evidence, since prison officials are conducting their own internal probe of Hernandez’s death and the items are being safeguarded during that process.
But McGuire sided with Leontire.
In a three-page order issued immediately after the hearing, McGuire ordered the DOC to preserve a slew of items.
Those items include Hernandez’s property in the cell and his writings; the sheets and ligature found in the cell; photographs of the cell; Hernandez’s medical and mental health records; recordings of calls Hernandez made during the month leading up…