A judge on Tuesday erased a 2013 murder conviction against former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez, ruling that case law in MA has long established that defendants who die before their appeals are heard should have their convictions vacated.
The legal doctrine behind Tuesday's ruling is known as abatement ab initio ("from the beginning").
Patrick Bomberg said Hernandez "should not be able to accomplish in death what he could not accomplish in life".
"This court can not know why Aaron Hernandez chose to end his life. a tragic act that may have complex and myriad causes", she said.
A lawyer for Hernandez's estate asked the judge to overturn the rule after the former New England Patriot committed suicided last month while serving his life sentence for killing Odin Lloyd.
His death came five days after he was acquitted in a 2012 double murder.
Despite the ruling, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III said he will appeal the judge's decision. and will take it all the way to the Massachusetts Supreme Court if he has to.
Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, is among those in the courtroom for Tuesday's hearing.
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Abatement has generally been recognized in MA even in high-profile cases of suicide.
"This is an established common law doctrine", appellate attorney John Thompson argued.
Hernandez's lead attorney in the double murder trial, Jose Baez, has pledged to independently investigate the death.
A MA judge has agreed to erase Aaron Hernandez's conviction in a 2013 murder because he died before his appeal could be heard.
Hernandez's appellate lawyers said his conviction in the Lloyd case was not considered final because the automatic appeal he was entitled to had not been heard at the time of his death.
After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Susan Garsh said she expects to issue a decision late Tuesday morning.
State police said in an investigative report that Hernandez was found naked on April 19 and hanging from a bed sheet tied around the window bars of his cell.
First, one fellow inmate told authorities that Hernandez had mentioned he heard a rumor about the abatement rule, according to the court documents.
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