A judge agreed to get rid of Aaron Hernandez’s conviction in a 2013 murder case because he died before his appeal was heard in a court of law.
E. Susan Garsh, a judge in the Bristol County District, ruled on Tuesday that a legal doctrine that calls for vacating convictions when a defendant dies before the appeal was binding precedent. The judge said she had to follow the previous law.
Thomas M. Quinn III said he planned to appeal the ruling and is willing to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Massachusetts.
Quinn argued, “despite the tragic ending to Aaron Hernandez’s life, he should not reap the legal benefits of an antiquated rule. State and federal courts from across the country have rejected this antiquated rule. Massachusetts, in my opinion, needs to follow suit.”
Aaron was serving a life sentence for killing the football player Odin Lloyd. A lawyer for the estate of Hernandez’s estate asked the judge to overturn the conviction after he died.
John Thompson, an appellate attorney, maintained that a conviction is not considered to be final until a higher court decides it.
Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward, said the judge’s decision would not affect her view on Hernandez’s culpability and what happened to her son Odin.
She said, “in our book, he’s guilty, and he’s going to always be guilty. But I know, I know one day I’m going to see my son, and that’s the victory that I have, and I am going to take with me.”
Lloyd’s family could still proceed with a lawsuit citing a wrongful death against the estate of Hernandez, despite the court’s ruling.
Prosecutors for the state said dismissing the murder charge would reward Hernandez’s decision to take his life. Patrick Bomberg said Hernandez “should not be able to accomplish in death what he could not accomplish in life.”
Judge Garsh rejected the argument because no one will ever know for sure why Hernandez killed himself.