The conviction for murder of Aaron Hernandez restored by the high court


The Supreme Court's ruling comes nearly two years after a state judge overturned Hernandez's murder conviction after the former NFL star's suicide.

Hernandez was serving a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd in June 2013. Hernandez was hanged in his cell on April 19, 2017, just days after his acquittal for double murder in a separate case.

The Massachusetts courts had generally recognized a legal rule called "reduction of initial expenses", whereby convictions are annulled if the defendant dies before his appeal is resolved.

Wednesday's High Court decision, however, called the long-standing legal principle "obsolete and no longer fit the circumstances of contemporary life, if at all".

Instead, the court said that when a defendant dies on an appeal, it will be dismissed and noted in the court record, and the conviction will be upheld. The record will indicate that the conviction was "neither confirmed nor overturned because the defendant died".

"We are happy that justice is done in this case, the obsolete practice of canceling a valid conviction is being eliminated and the victim's family can get the closure they deserve", Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III said via Twitter.

Lawyer John Thompson, who represented Hernandez in the Lloyd case, said he was disappointed with the decision.

"We believe that the Court has departed from its usual criteria in making this decision and intend to seek reconsideration of this aspect of its decision that applies its newly created law to Mr. Hernandez's case," he said. he said in a statement. an essential point of equity in the application of the new rule to the present case ".

The lawyer Jose Baez, who represented Hernandez in the separate double murder case in Boston, said the ruling "will be a hollow and short-lived moment for the Commonwealth because this decision is not only cruel for the Aaron family, but also disappointing and discouraging ". to all families who seek to erase the names of their loved ones, in an imperfect system in which wrongful convictions are annulled every day. "

At the time of the abatement, prosecutors argued that the cancellation of Hernandez's conviction "would reward the conscious, deliberate and voluntary act of the accused" to commit suicide and that the rule of abatement had no solid historical or legal basis.

"An accused, who can commit suicide in his own criminal trial and silence a civil trial by a stay of proceedings … has the reins of the entire justice system in his hands," wrote the prosecutor.

Thompson had argued that the type of death should not matter: when a person dies while his or her conviction is the subject of a direct appeal, it should to be canceled.

The reduction had been generally recognized in Massachusetts, even in high-profile suicide cases.

John Salvi was convicted of murder in 1996 for opening fire in a family planning clinic at Brookline, but his conviction was overturned when he committed suicide in jail before his appeal was heard. .

And the death of John J. Geoghan, a priest at the center of the scandal of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church, also led to a reduction in his sentence.

CNN by Jean Casarez and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.

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