Murder conviction restored for Aaron Hernandez

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In a precedent-reversing decision, the highest court in MA ruled Wednesday that Aaron Hernandez's first-degree murder conviction must be effectively reinstated, despite Hernandez having killed himself before his appeal could be heard.

Quinn III, District Attorney of Bristol County (Mass.) where Hernandez was accused, tried and convicted of killing Odin Lloyd in 2013, celebrated the SJC's ruling in a statement.

The state's Supreme Judicial Court declared outdated the legal principle, based in English canonical law, that deems a conviction final only if a lower-court finding has been considered by an appeals court.

But a judge threw out his conviction on the existing principle that dictated that someone found guilty who dies before having a chance to have his appeal reviewed should no longer be considered guilty.

Quinn wrote Wednesday that, thanks to the court's ruling, "justice is served".

How states handle cases such as Hernandez's varies widely. Otherwise, the conviction should stand, he argued. Some, like MA, toss the convictions, while other states dismiss the defendant's appeal and the conviction stands.

Under the new rule laid out by the court, the conviction will stand but the court record will note the conviction was neither affirmed nor reversed because the defendant died while the appeal was pending.

Lawyer John Thompson, who said he was representing "the spirit of Aaron Hernandez", said this would be unfair as the defendant - a critical part of any case - is dead, and can not provide context or help to attorneys to properly appeal his case. Others allow appellate courts to consider a dead defendant's case, prosecutors said. "They would have an action against the estate because of the wrongful death of their family member". "It has solidified their faith in the Massachusetts Justice System". Legal analysts believed vacating Hernandez's murder conviction had made winning the case more hard for the plaintiffs.

John Salvi, who was convicted of killing two abortion clinic workers in Brookline in 1994, had that ruling overturned when he committed suicide in 1996.

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