Aaron Hernandez's murder conviction was reinstated Wednesday in a sweeping ruling from Massachusetts' highest court that does away with the legal principle that made the former National Football League star innocent in the eyes of the law after he killed himself in prison.
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.
Jurors had found him guilty for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd.
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. "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".
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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. As part of an obscure doctrine called "abatement ab initio", Hernandez's guilty verdict was overturned because he died before he was able to conclude the appeals process.
Lloyd's family has sued Hernandez and his estate in civil court for wrongful death, seeking answers about their loved one's murder and damages. Some, like MA, toss the convictions, while other states dismiss the defendant's appeal and the conviction stands. Other states allow appellate courts to consider a dead defendant's case, prosecutors say.
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The district attorney whose office prosecuted Hernandez's case applauded the court's decision.
Unless Massachusetts' highest court changes its own decision, Hernandez will remain a convicted murderer for eternity.
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