Massachusetts Court Reinstates Aaron Hernandez' Murder Conviction

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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.

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

After the 27-year-old former athlete hung himself, his family turned his brain over to scientists who determined that Hernandez had the one of the worst cases of the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy that they had ever seen.

The conviction was nullified previous year, due to an arcane legal rule that says a defendant who dies before their appeal is heard must have any guilty verdict wiped out.

Moving forward under the new rule laid out by the court, the conviction will stand but the permanent record will note it was neither affirmed nor reversed at the appeal level due to the defendant's death.

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. It ordered that Hernandez's conviction be restored and that the practice be abolished for future cases.

Aaron Hernandez found hanged
Aaron Hernandez Murder Charge Re-Instated

Lloyd, a former semi-pro football player, was shot multiple times in a parking lot near Hernandez's home on June 17, 2013. The prosecution then appealed, seeking to have the conviction reinstated.

Massachusetts' highest court began to consider Thursday whether to end the long-standing legal practice that "wipes out" a person's conviction if the defendant dies before all appeals are exhausted.

"We're here because he was convicted", Quinn told the justices.

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. "They would have an action against the estate because of the wrongful death of their family member".

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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