Under Massachusetts law, Aaron Hernandez suicide voids murder conviction


Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell on Wednesday morning after hanging himself using bedsheets and, under Massachusetts law, that means the murder conviction that sent him to prison in the first place has been voided.

Hernandez was still in the process of appealing his 2014 conviction of murdering Odin Lloyd, which means a legal principle dating back to English common law called “abatement ab initio” applies to his case. “Ab initio” translates to “from the beginning” and chief legal counsel to the Massachusetts Bar Association Michael Healy told the Boston Globe that the principle reverts a case to its start if the convicted party dies before the appeals process has concluded.

Healy said that civil proceedings in other cases involving the death of the convicted party were complicated because evidence established in the criminal trial cannot be used to make the civil case.

“Unfortunately, in the Odin Lloyd matter, for the family, there won’t be any real closure,” Healy said. “Aaron Hernandez will go to his death an innocent man.”

Not all states still have “abatement ab initio” on the books and some eliminated it after the death of those convicted in high profile cases. Healy said it would not be surprising if a Massachusetts legislator introduced legislation to eliminate it in the state in light of Hernandez’s suicide.

19 responses to “Under Massachusetts law, Aaron Hernandez suicide voids murder conviction

  1. Notwithstanding the law, could see jury nullification getting the family some measure of satisfaction in a civil suit.

  2. Same thing happened to Kenneth Lay’s conviction in the ENRON case. He died in prison while the case was being appealed, so the conviction went away.

  3. Do the Patriots now owe him the money they with held from his contract since the conviction will go away?

  4. mashoaf says:
    Apr 19, 2017 1:28 PM

    Do the Patriots now owe him the money they with held from his contract since the conviction will go away?


    Whoa, interesting point. That would provide a hell of a motive for a guy who was going to spend the rest of his life in prison with a 4 year old he’d never be able to support.

  5. Jesus, this frigging state. So, theoretically, the Pats could now “honor” him and retire his number, etc because he isn’t a convicted murderer?

    Sometimes the sheer stupidity of some of the rules and laws in this state baffle me.

    The other one is the fact that it’s a requirement to have an insurance company physically stamp your registration form. Why that’s still required in this age amid all of our technological advances is ass-backwards – and the fact that they run radio commercials with an RMV lady saying this as she sounds like one of the sisters from The Fighter is something that they’re proud of?!?!

  6. This could explain the timing of the suicide being immediately after he was acquitted in the other case. If the other state did not have a similar rule, then had he been convicted the suicide would have made no difference. However, with the acquittal in the other case, erasing the Odin Lloyd conviction means that legally Hernandez in death is guilty of nothing. This may have significant financial impacts for his daughter. It may cause the NFL to have to cough up some money that Hernandez lost when he wa convicted. It also may have some impact on something like survivor retirement benefits that his daughter may now be entitled to. With this piece of news the suicide, and the timing of it, is starting to make a little more sense – not that suicide is ever a rationale choice.

  7. This is interesting but in the scheme of things just legal rhetoric. He will always be known as a convicted murderer and many if not most will refer to him as someone who killed three people (regardless of the verdict) and shot two others.

  8. What a crock!! This sounds ACLU baloney if anything. Now the lawyers can wrangle over what happens to the estate and soak the estate for millions.

  9. If indeed his death voids the Lloyd murder conviction via an obscure old common law process – and provides an avenue for his heirs to qualify for some NFL money (pension, etc…) then a real motive for suicide exists.

    My next question is how did this information make it to Hernandez? I would be interested to know if his recent Defense team mentioned this to him.

  10. “Do the Patriots now owe him the money they with held from his contract since the conviction will go away?”

    Yes. Apparently they can no go after the several million dollars the Pats withheld from him.

    That’s a motive for suicide as a way to provide for his daughter by having that verdict voided. Hopefully it also means Lloyd’s family can get something from their civil suit as well but I have no idea how having the verdict nullified effects that.

  11. Well if Hernandez’s estate does try to go after the Pats since his convictions are thrown out, the prison medical examiner could probably be called into court to confirm 100% that he committed a murder yesterday.

  12. bobinkc says:
    Apr 19, 2017 3:15 PM
    What a crock!! This sounds ACLU baloney if anything.

    I know there were some big words in the article and you may not have understood them. Do you thing English law pre-dates the ACLU?

  13. Saying “Aaron Hernandez will go to his death an innocent man” is a bit of a stretch.

    Saying “Aaron Hernandez, by virtue of suicide, had his conviction of murder voided due to a very old, relatively obscure law still on the books.”

    That’s quite a difference from the connotation of “an innocent man.”

  14. The key is did Beaz give him this information so he Beaz could then go after the NFL and Pats for the estate thusly getting him paid in the process. Wouldn’t surprise me or others one bit as it’s been mentioned. Lawyers especially high end defense lawyers are as crooked as those the defend.

  15. When I first heard he killed himself, I thought, Wow he finally understands how much he messed up everything.

    Maybe someone told him about this, and he thought it was the best chance to help his family.

    What if somehow the Pats have to pay now? What if Mr. Kraft feels sorrow for the family he left behind.

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