Aaron Hernandez's murder conviction reinstated by high court

Aaron Hernandez’s murder conviction reinstated by Massachusetts’s highest court

Massachusetts' highest court on Wednesday reinstated the late Aaron Hernandez's murder conviction, which was erased after the former National Football League star died by suicide in prison.

The legal principle known by the Latin phrase "ab initio", came under scrutiny past year when Hernandez, a former New England Patriots star and convicted killer, was found dead in his prison cell.

Hernandez hanged himself in his cell days after being acquitted in a double-murder case from 2012.

The high court's decision clears the way for the victim's family to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Hernandez, who had a $41 million contract when he was arrested for Lloyd's killing, said Robert Bloom, a professor at Boston College Law School.

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.

But a judge threw out his conviction on the existing principle that dictated that someone found guilty who dies before having a chance to have his appeal reviewed should no longer be considered guilty.

Hernandez was convicted for the murder of Lloyd in 2015.

During a November hearing before the court, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn argued that vacating Aaron Hernandez's murder conviction is "fundamentally unfair".

How states handle cases such as Hernandez's varies widely. Other states allow appellate courts to consider a dead defendant's case, prosecutors say.

Unless Massachusetts' highest court changes its own decision, Hernandez will remain a convicted murderer for eternity.

"What it means is that Lloyd's family might be able to collect from the estate", Bloom said.

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.

"Hernandez's initial conviction, however, was vacated in 2017 after the former New England Patriots" tight end committed suicide in his jail cell.



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