Massachusetts' highest court rules Aaron Hernandez's first-degree murder conviction must be reinstated

Massachusetts' highest court rules Aaron Hernandez's first-degree murder conviction must be reinstated

Calling it 'outdated, ' the Supreme Judicial Court in MA has eliminated a state legal principle that wiped out the murder conviction of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez after his suicide.

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.

Hernandez was convicted in 2015 of killing semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd.

Hernandez hanged himself in his cell days after being acquitted in a double-murder case from 2012.

Prosecutors said the legal principle was unfair to victims and outdated.

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"When a defendant dies irrespective of cause, while a direct appeal as of right challenging his conviction is pending, the proper course is to dismiss the appeal as moot", the court said.

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.

Hernandez's attorney had previously argued the legal doctrine should remain intact, saying juries make mistakes. However, it 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. Some, like MA, toss the convictions, while other states dismiss the defendant's appeal and the conviction stands.

John H. Thompson, the court-appointed appellate lawyer for Hernandez, had argued that the criminal justice system is concerned exclusively with the defendant, not victims, their relatives, or jurors. Quinn told the court that the defendant's estate should be allowed to appeal the case, if they wish.

John Salvi was convicted of murder in 1996 for opening fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Brookline, but his conviction was vacated when he committed suicide in prison before his appeal was heard.

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