Published: Wed, March 13, 2019
Sports | By Johanna Francis

Aaron Hernandez's Murder Conviction Reinstated By Mass. High Court

Aaron Hernandez's Murder Conviction Reinstated By Mass. High Court

Aaron Hernandez's murder conviction was reinstated Wednesday by Massachusetts' highest court in a ruling that also ended an antiquated legal rule in which convictions were thrown out when a defendant died before an appeal was heard.

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

Hernandez was found guilty in 2015 of the killing of Odin L. Lloyd but, two years later, the former New England Patriots tight end was found hanging from a bedsheet attached to a window in his cell.

Prosecutors argued that the legal doctrine is outdated and unfair to victims.

According to, the Supreme Judicial Court have overturned this ruling, which means Hernandez' conviction has been reinstated.

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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.

During his arguments before the court, Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III said, "The practice of wiping out a jury verdict like it never occurred is not fair or equitable".

The judges said Tuesday that the Commonwealth's law automatically vacating the conviction because of Hernandez's suicide is "outdated". The court record will note that the conviction was "neither affirmed nor reversed because the defendant died".

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.

Abatement had generally been recognized in MA even in high-profile cases of suicide. He was serving a life sentence in prison for the June 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd.

The Patriots took Hernandez in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

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