The Aaron Hernandez case is now closed except for the various lawsuits winding their way through the courts, but the fascination with his rise and fall remains.
The book about the case by best-selling author James Patterson (who has a new novel out written with Bill Clinton) and two co-authors came out in January and quickly became a New York Times best seller. CBS did a “48 Hours’’ episode on it. So did the Oxygen cable channel, and the movie rights have also been sold.
Still, all the attention has not resulted in any answers for why Hernandez became a murderer and then committed suicide, which wiped out his conviction because the case was still on appeal.
The authors believe Hernandez killed two other men, but he was acquitted on those charges. He also shot a drug dealer — who was supposedly his best friend — in the eye.
Hernandez shot four people in three separate incidents … and nobody knows why.
Was he a psychopath? Did the death of his father when he was young deprive him of a father figure? Was the brain damage he suffered discovered after his death a factor? Did he believe he could get away with anything?
His case is so bizarre that the defense argued that, if he did the murder he was convicted of, he wouldn’t have driven the victim a mile from his house and left the body there. He all but left a note that he did it because he left so much evidence behind.
Unfortunately, Patterson and his coauthors couldn’t find any motives for the shooting, and Patterson simply wrote it as a crime novel with no footnotes — as if it were fiction.
The problem is that book proves reality is sometimes stranger than fiction. Patterson wouldn’t have written this tale as a fiction crime tale because nobody would have believed it.
Still, Hernandez’ brother DJ Hernandez hinted there is a story behind the story.
He wrote in a statement, “Many stories about my brother’s life have been shared with the public – except the story Aaron was brave enough to share with our mother and me. It is the one story he wanted us to share with the world. It is Aaron’s truth.’’
He has yet to share that story.
The authors suggest he committed suicide to make it easier for his fiancée to sue the NFL and the New England Patriots because he is no longer a convicted murderer. The note he left her in his cell ended, “You’re rich.’’
The case also shed a light on the atmosphere at the University of Florida when Hernandez played there. He may have gotten the idea there that football players are above the law.
There was a shooting when he was there, and one witness said Hernandez was the shooter, but other witnesses said he didn’t look anything like Hernandez.
Bill Cervone, the state attorney in Gainesville and Florida alumnus, said that “way too many’’ Gators have gotten into trouble, but he said most of it was for insignificant college kid stuff.
“But it’s way overblown to say that anyone around here, certainly law enforcement, kowtows to the university,’’ he said.
The book quotes university representatives as saying, “There was a time when the number of football player arrests was unacceptable, and we are mindful of that.’’
The author claims Florida set an NCAA record for the most players arrested in a single year, although the NCAA doesn’t release those records. Regardless, even the school admitted the number was “unacceptable.’’
And to be a player at that time when the team was winning was a heady experience.
“We could do whatever we wanted,’’ one player said. “Everybody knew us. We were celebrities. We ran the city.’’
Coach Urban Meyer had bible study classes with Hernandez and assigned Tim Tebow to mentor him, but Aaron was Aaron.
There were enough red flags that Hernandez fell to the fourth round of the draft when New England coach Bill Belichick, who declined to be interviewed for the book (no surprise there), snapped him up. We know the rest of the story.
Whether being too close to Bristol, Conn., where he grew up contributed to Hernandez’ downfall will never be known.
But we know what happened.
We just don’t know why it happened. And probably never will.