Last night, I watched Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez.
The case of Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots tight end who was accused of murdering multiple people when he was off the field and ultimately convicted of one murder, has always interested me. If you believe what prosecutors charged (and, after watching the documentary, I do), Hernandez went from signing a 40 million dollar contract with the Patriots to killing people for the slightest of reasons.
After Hernandez committed suicide in 2017, his brain was examined and it was said that he was suffering from severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which could have been a factor in his lack of self-control. I was always skeptical of the argument that Hernandez’s crimes could be explained away by CTE. I don’t doubt that Hernandez had it but I’ve always understood that CTE usually didn’t start to really effect people until they were middle-aged. Hernandez was only 22 when he was arrested for the murder of Odin Lloyd. To me, especially after watching the documentary, it’s more probable that Hernandez was just a sociopathic punk who was desperate to prove his manhood. In his mind, that meant going after anyone who had gotten under his skin or who he viewed as being a threat. In the documentary, one of Odin Lloyd’s friends says that Aaron Hernandez was trying to be a gangster and I think that’s right. The documentary also revealed that Hernandez was gay and deeply closeted and suggests that his own self-hatred was one of the main causes of Hernandez’s emotional instability.
The documentary features the audio of several phone calls between the jailed Hernandez and his mother and girlfriend. What really got to me was how content Hernandez often sounded in those recordings. It was as if being in prison and only having to deal with a small cell provided him with the structure that he had never had before.
The film reveals that Hernandez was not a smart criminal. He murdered Lloyd just a few miles away from his house and he left behind hundreds of clues that revealed he was the murderer. If Hernandez had been a smarter criminal, would be still be playing in the NFL today? Would he be making millions off of endorsements and looking forward to a future as an ESPN commentator? I doubt it. Aaron Hernandez was so self-destructive that his downfall was going to come one way or the other.
Another good thing about the documentary is that it spent almost as much time exploring Odin Lloyd’s life as it did Aaron Hernandez’s. With all the publicity surrounding Hernandez’s trial, it was often overlooked that Odin Lloyd left behind friends and family and loves ones. Everyone in the documentary describes Odin Lloyd as being a good person and it’s obvious that, when interviewed, all of them were still feeling the pain of losing him. The documentary remembers that this story is about more than just Aaron Hernandez’s fall from grace. It’s also about the tragedy of Odin Lloyd’s death.
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez is currently streaming on Netflix.