Hernandez killed himself in his cell on Wednesday and his family wants to donate his brain to researchers of brain trauma.

Jose Baez, Hernandez’s attorney, said the family were told they could take possession of the brain following the autopsy, but that request had now been denied.

Baez said the family will be seeking an independent autopsy.

“If we don’t get answers and answers quickly, we’re going to court,” Baez said. “It is literally a destruction of evidence.”

Baez would not confirm if the family believed brain trauma from Hernandez’s playing days with the New England Patriots led to his suicide.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is a degenerative brain disease often found in athletes with a history of head trauma.

Symptoms of CTE include erratic behaviour, social instability and suicidality.  

Hernandez had been serving a life sentence without parole for a 2013 murder.

He was last week acquitted of killing two men in 2012 and appeared upbeat in court.

Before the 27-year-old’s legal troubles, his skills had earned him a five-year, $40m contract extension.

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