Judge throws out Aaron Hernandez murder conviction
A Massachusetts judge threw out the murder conviction of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez on Tuesday.
Hernandez was found guilty of the 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd and was serving a life sentence without parole for that murder when he was found hanging in his cell on April 19, just five days after being acquitted for a 2012 double homicide.
Bristol County Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh said the interests of justice did not warrant a departure from the abatement doctrine and therefore had no choice but to dismiss the charges against Hernandez.
Hernandez's appellate attorneys wanted the conviction thrown out under a longstanding state principle called “abatement ab initio," which in Latin means to roll back a process to its beginning. It's a rule stating that a defendant that is deceased will be treated as though they never were convicted of the crime.
At the time of his death, Hernandez had not exhausted his appeals for Lloyd's murder, a conviction under Massachusetts law that is automatically appealed to the state's highest court.
Prosecutors in the case had said the conviction should stand because Hernandez voluntarily took his own life and they plan to appeal the decision.
"He died a guilty man and a convicted murderer. This fact is indisputable. You can’t just snap your fingers and have that go away,” Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn said.
The judgment in the matter could have immediate repercussions in pending civil lawsuits against Hernandez's estate. Because Hernandez’s convictions were thrown out, they can't be used against him in any civil case filed.
Lloyd's mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2013 on behalf of her son against Hernandez, the Patriots and Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Hernandez also faced civil lawsuits in Suffolk County, Mass., where the families of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, the two men he was accused of killing in 2012, are each seeking $6 million in damages.
- Scooby Axson