Ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez’s murder conviction reinstated

Lynette Rowe
March 14, 2019

Under the new order, if a defendant passes before their appeal, the conviction stands without any affirmation or nullification.

The former New England Patriots player committed suicide two days after he was acquitted in a second murder case concerning the deaths of two men which occurred in 2012. Hernandez, 27, was found guilty in 2015 of killing semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd.

The Supreme Judicial Court, the highest level court in the state, restored the murder conviction, which was in question after Hernandez killed himself in prison in April 2017. Just two years after being convicted, Hernandez died of suicide in his cell.

Under the doctrine, rooted in centuries of English law, a conviction should not be considered final until an appeal can determine whether mistakes were made that deprived the defendant of a fair trial, legal experts say.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court scrapped that legal doctrine, saying that it was not in keeping with norms of "contemporary life".

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The murder conviction of Aaron Hernandez, shown in 2012, has been reinstated by the highest court in MA.

"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", Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III said in a tweet. Quinn told the court that the defendant's estate should be allowed to appeal the case, if they wish.

Attorney Jose Baez, who represented Hernandez in the separate double-murder case in Boston, said the ruling "will be a hollow and short-lived moment for the Commonwealth, since this decision is not only cruel for Aaron's family, but also disappointing and discouraging to all of those families who seek to clear their loved ones' names, in a flawed system where wrongful convictions are reversed every day".

Lawyer John Thompson, who said he was representing "the spirit of Aaron Hernandez", said this would be unfair as the defendant - a critical part of any case - is dead, and can not provide context or help to attorneys to properly appeal his case.

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