Prosecutors in Bristol have called on the highest court in the state to modify the old Bay State law that led to Aaron Hernandez’s murder conviction being thrown out. This was after he committed suicide while in jail. He was convicted for murder in 2015, and died on April 19, 2017.
According to a pitch by Bristol prosecutor Shoshana Stern, the law that exempted Aaron from conviction could be used to game the justice system. The following was the pitch as reported by the Boston Herald.
“The instant case presents the question of whether a convicted criminal defendant can guarantee that his conviction will be vacated by killing himself. If the answer to this question is ‘yes’ in all circumstances, it would provide some number of defendants with a perverse incentive to suicide.”
Following Aaron Hernandez’s death, his lawyers requested that his conviction for the murder of Odin Lloyd be erased. The homicide took place in June 17, 2013, with the New England Patriots player being one of the main suspects. He, Carlos Ortiz, and Ernest Wallace were arrested a few days after the incident and convicted. Hernandez also faced a five-count weapons charge. He reportedly committed suicide in his cell using a bed sheet. With his appeal process still in progress, his case was automatically turned into a state of innocent until found guilty.
Judge Susan Garsh, who oversaw the trial, cited the abatement ab initio doctrine rule as having influenced the court’s decision. According to prosecutors contesting this law, it allows for convicted persons to benefit their families by overturning judgement. As such, aspects such as compensation to victims are easily voided. This, they state, contravenes public justice, arguing that Aaron Hernandez knew and took advantage of this.
Aaron Hernandez’s defense team has countered the appeal as unprocedural and doesn’t take into account that the law is present in other states. That said, Aaron’s state of mind at the time of his death came into question last year following a posthumous examination of his brain which revealed advanced degenerative brain disease, according to the New York Times. His condition, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, has apparently been found in over 100 NFL players and has been attributed to incidents of suicide among players.