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

Ross Houston
March 14, 2019

In Wednesday's ruling, the court also set a new precedent, saying that the previous rule to vacate a conviction after a suicide was "outdated and no longer consonant with the circumstances of contemporary life".

The former athlete was found guilty in 2015 of killing semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd.

That changed Wednesday, and Hernandez is once again a murderer in the eyes of the law.

Aaron Hernandez had a promising career with the New England Patriots but it was ultimately derailed thanks to poor choices that ended up leading to the murder of Odin Lloyd.


In a precedent-reversing decision, the highest court in MA ruled Wednesday that Aaron Hernandez's first-degree murder conviction must be effectively reinstated, despite Hernandez having killed himself before his appeal could be heard.

Hernandez's death came shortly after his acquittal of the double murder of Daniel de Abreu and Safir Furtado. Quinn III was the prosecutor on the Hernandez case.

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.

"The SJC did not state a cogent reason for applying this new rule to Mr. Hernandez's case, and there is no reason in the record that justifies that aspect of this decision", John Thompson and Linda Thompson said in a statement, per the AP.


Hernandez legally had been an innocent man since April 2017 when he committed suicide in prison prior to exhausting all of his appeals under an ancient principle known as "abatement ab initio". Quinn told the court that the defendant's estate should be allowed to appeal the case, if they wish.

"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.

Other high-profile MA criminals whose convictions have been erased after their deaths include John Salvi, who was convicted of killing two abortion clinic workers and wounding five other people during a shooting rampage in Brookline in 1994.


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