Calling it “outdated,” the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts has eliminated a state legal principle that wiped out the murder conviction of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez after his suicide.
“The SJC has ruled that Aaron Hernandez’s conviction for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd will stand,” Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III said, per NBC Boston. “We are pleased justice is served in this case, the antiquated practice of vacating a valid conviction is being eliminated and the victim’s family can get the closure they deserve.”
Hernandez was convicted on April 15, 2015 of the 2013 death of semipro football player Odin Lloyd in North Attleborough, Mass.
The 27-year-old Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell on April 19, 2017, with his death ruled a suicide. He had been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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.
The court called it “outdated and no longer consonant with the circumstances of contemporary life” in Wednesday’s decision, which prosecutors had begun pushing for in November.
The state’s highest court in 2016 refused to change the legal rule in connection with another case, but the Hernandez prosecutors took up the cause.
“The current practice ... does not consider the interest of the other parties who have an interest in the outcome,” Quinn told the Boston Globe at the time. He said victims’ relatives, jurors and the public have interest in such cases.
The Patriots selected Hernandez in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He teamed with Rob Gronkowski to form a formidable tight end duo and before the 2012 season, New England signed Hernandez to a five-year, $41 million contract extension that would have expired in 2018.
The team released him the day of his arrest in the Lloyd case.
—Field Level Media