Aaron Hernandez’s murder conviction was dismissed by a judge Tuesday following the former New England Patriot’s suicide. Hernandez was convicted of the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, for which he had been serving a life sentence when he died.
Judge Susan Garsch said the court was “compelled to follow binding precedent,” according to WBZ-TV reporter Christina Hager.
Because Hernandez’s appeal was ongoing at the time of his death, a Massachusett’s legal rule known as “abatement” was able to be invoked.
“The idea is that if an appeal hasn’t happened, there’s a chance the conviction has an error in it,” Rosanna Cavallari, a professor at Suffolk University, told CNN in April. “Rather than have someone with that incomplete decision that they’re guilty, the state chooses instead to say the conviction is abated as if it had never happened.”
The judge said the court was “compelled to follow binding precedent” when issuing the decision.
“The longstanding rule is…abating the entire prosecuting as if it never happened,” said Garsch.
The decision means Hernandez’s record with not show any murder conviction. The dismissal of charges has implications not just for Hernandez’s reputation but for his estate as well. The NFL might have to pony up millions.
It’s possible that the New England Patriots could be obligated to pay the $3.5 million bonus Hernandez lost as a result of his arrest for the 2013 murder. They could also owe Hernandez an additional $2.5 million in base salary he lost at the time.
Hernandez, 27, was found hanged in his prison cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correction Center in Massachusetts April 19, just a few days after he had been acquitted of the 2012 murders of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. Hernandez was serving a life sentence without parole for the 2013 murder of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd.