Massachusetts Court Reinstates Aaron Hernandez' Murder Conviction

Tanya Simon
March 13, 2019

Thanks to that principle, Hernandez's conviction in Bristol Superior Court for the murder of Odin Lloyd was erased after the former National Football League star killed himself in prison.

In the opinion for the SJC, Justice Elspeth Cypher wrote the court had concluded "the doctrine of abatement ab initio is outdated and no longer consonant with the circumstances of contemporary life, if, in fact, it ever was".

The court reinstated Hernandez's first-degree 2015 murder conviction for the 2013 slaying of Odin Lloyd, the boyfriend of his former fiance's sister.

Aaron Hernandez's murder conviction was reinstated Wednesday by Massachusetts' highest court in a ruling that also ended an antiquated legal rule in which convictions were thrown out when a defendant died before an appeal was heard.

At the time of the abatement, prosecutors argued that throwing out Hernandez's conviction would "reward the defendant's conscious, deliberate and voluntary act" of killing himself and that the abatement rule has no solid historical or legal basis. Two years later, he was acquitted of double-murder charges in a separate trial, but killed himself in his jail cell shortly thereafter.

The judges said Tuesday that the Commonwealth's law automatically vacating the conviction because of Hernandez's suicide is "outdated". Quinn told the court that the defendant's estate should be allowed to appeal the case, if they wish. "He said victims" relatives, jurors and the public have interest in such cases.

Aaron Hernandez found hanged

The district attorney whose office prosecuted Hernandez's case applauded the court's decision.

Under the court's ruling, the Hernandez conviction will stand, with the court record noting that it was neither affirmed nor reversed because the defendant died while the appeal was pending.

Other high-profile MA criminals whose convictions have been erased after their deaths include John Salvi, who was convicted of killing two abortion clinic workers and wounding five other people during a shooting rampage in Brookline in 1994.

Massachusetts' highest court began to consider Thursday whether to end the long-standing legal practice that "wipes out" a person's conviction if the defendant dies before all appeals are exhausted.

The Patriots took Hernandez in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

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