Aaron Hernandez may have been serving a life sentence at the time of his suicide last week, but due to a legal technicality, he was considered an innocent man.
According to a new report, an old legal principle, known as "abatement ab initio," might have led not only to Hernandez being declared innocent, but also to a future payout from the New England Patriots, who terminated his contract years ago after he was arrested and charged with the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd.
"The principle states that if the person has not exhausted all their appeals upon their death, then the case goes back to its original state which voids Hernandez's conviction for the murder of Lloyd," NESN revealed to readers on April 21.
William Kennedy, the attorney who represents the families of both Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, told WBZ-TV that the New England Patriots might be forced to pay $3.5 million to the estate of Aaron Hernandez because he was technically innocent at the time he died.
Aaron Hernandez was previously charged with the murders of de Abreu and Furtado, but earlier this month, just days before he was found dead in his prison cell, Hernandez was acquitted of the double homicide.
"At the time of his original arrest in the Odin Lloyd case, my understanding was that there was a $3.5 million bonus that we've made a subject of an action in the Superior Court," Kennedy said, per WBZ-TV. "We got a commitment from the Patriots that before any of that payment would be made they would notify the court to give us a chance to deal with that."
Although there have been several reports claiming the New England Patriots might have to pay his estate the remaining amount of his contact, another report shared by the Boston Globe's Ben Volin claimed the team will not owe the estate any of the $5.91 million that was withheld after his arrest.
According to Volin, Aaron Hernandez's estate won't be eligible for any of the funds because the late athlete was clearly in breach of contract. He also claimed Aaron Hernandez and the Patriots had already settled a grievance hearing in 2014.
Salary cap expert and former NFL agent Joel Corry weighed in on the situation as well, telling Volin that settlements ultimately include confirmation of certain financial issues.
"Typically when there's a settlement, there's some sort of catch-all language: 'This will resolve all claims known or which could be known in the future,'" Corry explained to Volin. "I haven't seen too many settlements which don't have some type of form of that kind of language."
While Aaron Hernandez's estate might not see the remainder of his contract with the New England Patriots, there could be money coming from NFL. As Volin explained to the Boston Globe, the late athlete's estate can draw an NFL pension for his beneficiary.
On April 24, the International Business Times shared details of Aaron Hernandez's net worth, claiming the late football player was worth around $8 million years before his suicide. Although Aaron Hernandez signed a $40 million contract in 2010 to play for the New England Patriots, he received less than a quarter of the money due to his 2013 arrest.
According to the report, Aaron Hernandez's contract was worth $5 million annually.
Aaron Hernandez killed himself last Wednesday after being acquitted in the 2010 double homicide of de Abreu and Furtado, and today, his family and friends said their goodbyes during a funeral service in Bristol, Connecticut.
Hernandez leaves behind fiancee Shayanna Jenkins and their daughter, Avielle.
It has not yet been revealed whether Aaron Hernandez had a will at the time of his passing.
[Featured Image by Jim Rogash/Getty Images]