Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Sports | By Juana Wells

Aaron Hernandez's First-Degree Murder Conviction Reinstated By Court

Aaron Hernandez's First-Degree Murder Conviction Reinstated By 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.

Hernandez hanged himself in his prison cell in 2017, days after being cleared of a separate 2012 double murder, leading a lower-court judge to toss his conviction under a longstanding state legal doctrine that vacated guilty sentences for people who died before they had exhausted the appeals process.

The state's highest court ruled that the practice of vacating a criminal conviction if the defendant dies during the case is a nonsensical practice and that the doctrine will be ended in the Bay State, according to the Boston Globe.

MA courts had generally recognized a legal rule called "abatement ab initio", or abatement, in which convictions are thrown out if a defendant dies prior his or her appeal being resolved.

Aaron Hernandez's murder conviction has been reinstated.

Hernandez was convicted on April 15, 2015 of the 2013 death of semipro football player Odin Lloyd in North Attleborough, Massachusetts.

Aaron Hernandez found hanged
Aaron Hernandez Murder Charge Re-Instated

How states handle cases such as Hernandez's varies widely.

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. Quinn III was the prosecutor on the Hernandez case. Quinn told the court that the defendant's estate should be allowed to appeal the case, if they wish.

John H. Thompson, the court-appointed appellate lawyer for Hernandez, had argued that the criminal justice system is concerned exclusively with the defendant, not victims, their relatives, or jurors. "It has solidified their faith in the Massachusetts Justice System".

John Salvi, who was convicted of killing two abortion clinic workers in Brookline in 1994, had that ruling overturned when he committed suicide in 1996.

Roman Catholic priest John Geoghan, a key figure in the clergy sex abuse scandal that rocked the Boston archdiocese and spread across the globe, also had his child molestation conviction vacated after he was beaten to death in 2003 in his cell at the same MA maximum-security prison where Hernandez died.

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