Con­victed mur­derer Her­nan­dez no longer a con­victed mur­derer

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - CINDY BOREN

Less than two weeks af­ter his sui­cide in a Mas­sachusetts prison, a judge has ruled that the mur­der con­vic­tion of Aaron Her­nan­dez will be va­cated.

Judge Su­san Garsh is­sued her rul­ing on Tues­day morn­ing in Fall River, Mass., af­ter lis­ten­ing to ar­gu­ments from Her­nan­dez’s lawyers. Her de­ci­sion is not un­usual be­cause Her­nan­dez died be­fore ex­haust­ing ap­peals of his con­vic­tion in the 2013 mur­der of Odin Lloyd. The state, which had op­posed the dis­missal of the con­vic­tion, is ex­pected to ap­peal.

“In our book, he’s guilty and he’s go­ing to al­ways be guilty, Ur­sula Ward, Lloyd’s mother, said (via WCVB in Bos­ton). “But I know one day I’m go­ing to see my son and that is a vic­tory that I have and I am go­ing to take with me.”

The death of Her­nan­dez, 27, came just days af­ter he was found not guilty in the trial of a 2012 dou­ble­mur­der. He was found in his cell at the Souza-Bara­nowski Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter in Shirley, Mass., early on the morn­ing of April 19. The for­mer New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots star had hanged him­self us­ing a bed­sheet and his death was ruled a sui­cide.

Pros­e­cu­tor Pa­trick Bomberg ar­gued that Her­nan­dez “should not be able to ac­com­plish in death what he could not ac­com­plish in life,” but Her­nan­dez’s at­tor­ney re­sponded that the state’s high­est court has ap­plied the doc­trine “with­out ex­cep­tion.”

The long-stand­ing le­gal prin­ci­ple called “abate­ment ab ini­tio” means that a per­son’s case re­verts to its sta­tus at the be­gin­ning if he or she dies be­fore le­gal ap­peals are ex­hausted.

“Its ef­fect is to stop all pro­ceed­ings ab ini­tio (from the be­gin­ning) and ren­der the de­fen­dant as if he or she had never been charged,” Tim­o­thy A. Razel wrote in a 2007 Ford­ham Law Re­view ar­ti­cle about the prin­ci­ple.

PAT GREEN­HOUSE, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Bris­tol County Su­pe­rior Court Judge Su­san Garsh va­cated the first-de­gree mur­der con­vic­tion of Aaron Her­nan­dez, Tues­day.

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