Courtroom swagger, bright smile hid Hernandez's inner darkness

"Have you ever been inside a prison?" an attorney asked me yesterday as we talked about a client of his who is facing a lengthy sentence. "Well it's a good place to leave."

Aaron Hernandez left prison, and the planet, for good early this morning, committing suicide, Massachusetts corrections officials said, by hanging himself with a bed sheet. He was just 27, but had experienced higher highs and lower lows in his short life than most who make it to old age. 

The news was shocking, because Hernandez wasn't considered a risk for suicide. He didn't appear to have left a note, according to The Boston Globe.

During his trial in 2015 for the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, which I witnessed firsthand for a day, he swaggered into the courtroom as if he had just stepped out of a five-star resort rather than a six-by-eight-foot cell. He still had his athlete's body, his handsome smile and a beautiful fiance who appeared to be standing by him even after he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

When Hernandez was acquitted last week of a double murder, there was speculation on Twitter and Facebook that he would win an appeal in the Lloyd case and be freed. Stranger things have happened to NFL players charged with murder. Look at OJ Simpson, whom many said got away with murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. Thirteen years after he was acquitted in tht case, Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison for an armed robbery involving, of all things, sports memorabilia.

It was karma, everybody said of Simpson's failure to succeed at his second chance in life.

Some now are saying that karma was at work in Hernandez's case as well. Others guess he was remorseful, or that he only now began to realize that he would likely remain locked up forever.

Simpson, 69, will be eligible for parole later this year and may get a third chance. 

Hernandez won't. The swagger and bright smile he displayed in the courtroom appear to have been a public cover. Last night, alone in his prison cell, Hernandez succumbed to the darkness.

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