On Thursday, Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III appealed the ruling that vacated the murder conviction of former New England Patriots tight-end Aaron Hernandez.
Back in April, Hernandez hanged himself in his prison cell just days after being acquitted of a double murder. One month later, a judge tossed out the baller’s first-degree murder conviction in the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, citing an old Massachusetts law which holds that murder convictions are thrown out if a defendant dies before an appeal has been heard. Hernandez had been serving a life sentence for the murder but his suicide left Judge E. Susan Garsh no choice but to throw it out.
“This court can not know why Hernandez may have chosen to end his life and declines to infer an intent by Hernandez to relinquish his appellate rights or an intent to interfere with the course of justice from his reported suicide, a tragic act that may have complex and myriad causes,” Garsh said.
Initially, lawyers for the former baller suspected foul play in Hernandez’s death but after alleged suicide notes surfaced, fans believed the suicide was all a ploy to make sure his family was well taken care of. According to reports, the vacated ruling could have provided the family with as much as $5 million from his football contract.
However, according to Quinn, Hernandez relinquished his right to an appeal when he took his own life, so the old Massachusetts law should be void and the conviction should stand.
“This is an archaic rule not based on the Constitution, and it should be changed. A defendant who commits suicide should not be able to manipulate the outcome of his post-conviction proceedings to achieve in death what he would not be able to achieve in life,” Quinn said in a statement.
“A defendant who killed himself while his appeal was pending should be treated the same as the many defendants who, aware that they have a right to an appeal, choose for whatever reason not to pursue one,” Quinn’s documents said.