Hernandez, who is on trial for a double homicide and appealing a 2015 murder conviction, hired attorney Jose Baez to join his legal team.
Baez notoriously represented Casey Anthony, before she was acquitted of murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. The team also includes "Harvard Law professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. and Alex Spiro, who represented NBA player Thabo Sefolosha in his legal battle with New York police," according to ESPN.
Last year, Hernandez was convicted of killing Odin Lloyd in June 2013. He is serving a sentence of life in prison without parole. He has already had one appeal denied. He is accused of double murder for, allegedly, shooting two men near a nightclub in 2012. He is still awaiting charges in that case, but has pleaded not guilty.
"I can now confirm that my firm has been retained to represent Mr. Aaron Hernandez in his upcoming trial,'' Baez wrote in a statement e-mailed to the Boston Globe. "Mr. Hernandez strongly maintains his innocence, and I plan to establish that before a jury of his peers. I have fully committed myself to ensuring a fair and just trial for Mr. Hernandez."
Hernandez, 26, had 175 receptions for 1,956 yards and 18 touchdowns in three seasons with the Patriots. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of the University of Florida. He was a college teammate of Tim Tebow.
"We understand that numerous reports of our client's alleged activity have been published, but we ask the public to afford Mr. Hernandez the presumption of innocence and let the facts unfold in a court of law,'' Baez told the Globe.
In August 2012, Hernandez signed a five-year, $40 million extension with the Patriots. The team later voided his contract guarantees. Last year, a judge froze Hernandez's $5 million in assets, including his disputed $3.3 million signing bonus, pending the outcome of the double murder trial, according to CNN.