Hernandez: Troubles, tears in South Florida
Former University of Florida football star Aaron Hernandez, who was found dead in his jail cell Wednesday, left a trail of blood, lawsuits and, in the end, mourning in South Florida.
And thanks to an obscure Massachusetts law, hemay be cleared in the crime of which hewas convicted, authorities said Wednesday.
Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey, a college roommate, teammate and good friend of the ex-New England Patriots player, posted an Instagram message Wednes---
day about Hernandez, who prison officials said hung himself inside his jail cell in Massachusetts.
“To my friend my brother! Through thick and thin right or wrong we never left each other’s side. Today my heart hurts as I got the worse news I could have imagined. Itwas just a day ago we shared our last convo.
“I will forever miss you and love you bro. we will meet again rest easy!,” Pouncey wrote on Instagram.
Hernandez, 27, who played for the Gators with Pouncey, was serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole for a 2013 murder. Hernandez was acquitted of a double murder lastweek.
Pouncey and his twin brother Maurkice, a center for the Pittsburgh Steelers, infamously wore baseball caps with the words “Free Hernandez” written on them at their birthday celebration in July 2013. He later apologized.
Hernandez was part of a BCS National Championship team and was recognized as an All-American. He was initially drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
An official with the Massachusetts Department of Corrections says Hernandez was found hanged in his cell just after 3 a.m. Wednesday. Authorities tried to revive Hernandez, who was pronounced dead at UMass Memorial — Health Alliance Hospital in Leominster at 4:07 a.m.
Prison officials say Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing unit at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass. They say he hanged himself using a bed sheet that he attached to a cell window.
Authorities say he tried to block the cell door from the inside by jamming the door with various items.
Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder, was acquitted Friday in a 2012 double slaying prosecutors said was fueled by his anger over a drink spilled at a nightclub.
Under a long-standing Massachusetts legal principle, courts customarily vacate the convictions of defendants who die before their appeals are heard.
Hernandez was sentenced to life in prison for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée.
A third suspect in the high-profile case turned up in Miramar in June 2013.
Ernest Wallace, 41, who was sought by Massachusetts State Police and was considered armed and dangerous, walked into the lobby of the Miramar Police Department and peacefully surrendered.
Hernandez’s attorneys can move to have the conviction in the Lloyd case erased, said Martin Healy, chief legal counsel for the Massachusetts Bar Association.
“For all practical purposes, Aaron Hernandez will die an innocent man, but the court of public opinion may think differently,” said Healy.
The legal principle, “abatement ab initio,” holds that it is unfair to the defendant or to his or her survivors if a conviction is allowed to stand before they had a chance to clear their names on appeal, in case some kind or error or other injustice was determined to have occurred at trial, Healy said.
“It’s a surprising result for the public to understand,” he said.
Hernandez’s appeal had not yet been heard by the state’s high court.
Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office which prosecuted the Lloyd case, would not comment on the possibility of the conviction being vacated.
Last year, a federal lawsuit against Hernandez was settled after hewas accused of shooting a friend in the face at Tootsie’s nightclub in Miami. Hernandez and associate AlexanderBradley got intoan argument once they got to Palm Beach County. Bradley lost his right eye, according to the civil suit. Terms were not disclosed under the settlement.
Aaron Hernandez, right, in court Friday, was found hanged in his cellWednesday. He died at the hospital.
Tight end Aaron Hernandez, right, was instrumental in the success of the Florida Gators football program during the Tim Tebow era of the late 2000s.