Things That Matter

Judge Reverses Innocence Verdict Striking Down Precedent Of Rare Legal Principle

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has reversed Aaron Hernandez’s innocent verdict in connection to the murder of Odin Lloyd. In 2017, Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh cleared the former NFL Patriots star of all charges in the murder case in which he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

By committing suicide when he did, Aaron Hernandez’s appeal was thrown out, according to the highest court in Massachusetts.

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After being acquitted of a double murder, and with his previous conviction in appeals when he died, legally speaking, Hernandez had died an innocent man, according to a Massachusetts legal principle called “abatement ab initio.” Martin W. Healy, chief legal counsel to the Massachusetts Bar Association, told the Boston Globe that “ab initio” means “from the beginning.” The rule says that if someone dies before using up all their legal appeals, their legal standing goes back to what it was at the start “as if the trial and conviction never happened.”

However, now CNN reports that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that “abatement ab initio” is “outdated and no longer consonant with the circumstances of contemporary life, if, in fact, it ever was.” This means that Hernandez is officially guilty of the murder of Odin and will be posthumously recognized as guilty.

According to the Globe, Bristol D.A. prosecutor, Thomas M. Quinn III, planned to appeal the ruling, saying, “He died a guilty man and a convicted murderer. This fact is indisputable … You can’t just snap your fingers and have that go away.”

In a Bristol County Superior Court legal filing in 2017, Hernandez’s suicide note to his fiancé, Shayanna Jenkins, was on full display. In it, Hernandez told her that he gave her an ominous heads up, writing “I told you what was coming indirectly.” It’s hard to say exactly what he told her “indirectly.” Was it that he was indeed going to commit suicide? Or, had he told her he’d do whatever he had to do in order to leave his family set up financially? Or something different altogether?

This is a copy of Hernandez’s suicide note that was made public with the filing.

Credit: Bristol Superior Court

The tone of the note is in stark contrast to the events that were about to unfold. He wrote lovingly to his fiancé, calling her an “angel – literally!” He asked her to take care of his friends and family and even writes to her “(You’re Rich),” presumably to reassure her that she’ll be able to afford it. Hernandez ended the letter by mentioning what appears to be their song: Savage Garden’s “I Knew I Loved You.”

After writing the note and two others, he presumably opened his bible to John 3:16, wrote “John 3:16” on his forehead in red marker, made red marks on his hands, blocked the entry to his cell, stripped to his bare body, wet and soaped the floor to make it less likely that he’d be able to back out of what he was about to do next: hang himself in his jail cell.

It really does boggle the mind, that someone about to do what he did, could write an even-handed note, with penmanship better than mine, and take all the necessary steps in such a methodical way to end their life.

The family of Odin Lloyd, who Hernandez is convicted of killing, praised the judicial system for giving them justice.

READ: Aaron Hernandez’s Secrets Are All Coming To The Light After His Suicide

New Trailer Released For The 3-Part Aaron Hernandez Documentary Coming To Netflix

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New Trailer Released For The 3-Part Aaron Hernandez Documentary Coming To Netflix

Netflix / YouTube

If we’re learned anything from the powerful documentaries of late (Surviving R. Kelly, Leaving Neverland, etc.) is that our perceived notions of what we thought was the whole story were nothing compared to the truth. In other words, these hard-hitting documentaries explore a person or topic with a deeper lens, which in turn opens the door wide open to a full new understanding. This latest documentary is showing that we only knew a portion of the truth. 

“Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez” is a new documentary on Netflix that will be premiering on Jan. 15.

Credit: Netflix/ YouTube

The 3-part series looks into the story of the former NFL player who reportedly committed suicide inside his prison cell in 2017. If the documentary is anything like the trailer, we’re in for a crazy ride — and not the right kind, but the ones that leave you bewildered. 

While the public has some perspective on the situation that landed Hernandez in jail, the show goes in deeper into his childhood, family, and life before he became a superstar athlete. 

The series takes a look at the making of the NFL pro and how Hernandez was propelled from high school football player to a multi-million dollar contract. 

Credit: Netflix / YouTube

It’s a fascinating look to see how this charming young kid turned out to be a killer. If we have learned from any other True Crime stories is that a killer isn’t just a sociopath, sometimes this killer tendencies develope over time, and we never know what was at the root of their issues. 

With Hernandez, we learn through this series that his family had a lot to do with how his life would play out later.

Credit: Netflix / YouTube

The trailer includes conversations that he had over the phone with his mother, including one in which he tells her that there was no way he would ever turn out to be an angel, especially because she was never there for him. 

The show will also include the turbulent relationship he had with his abusive father. An investigative report in Spotlight inside the Boston Globe released in 2018 added detailed accounts of how Hernandez suffered at the hands of his father. 

“Aaron and his older brother were often beaten and brutalized by their dad,” the Boston Globe reports. “Aaron didn’t cry at his father’s funeral, and people took note. He kept it all inside.” His brother said that they both lived in “constant fear of their father’s beatings.” 

Hernandez and his mother also had a very tumultuous relationship. It seemed as if football was his only way out of that chaotic family life. His high school friends recall him as a kind person, amusing, and said he didn’t pick on other kids. 

When the Patriots gave him a $40 million contract, Hernandez’s life just got more out of control. 

Credit: Netflix / YouTube

The trailer shows that all the suffering he went through at home, combined with superstardom, the pressures of delivering for the Patriots, “made him a ticking time bomb.” Not only did Hernandez get into a life of alcohol, drugs, and weapons, and as a witness in his trial said, “it was like he was out to prove something.” 

In 2015, Hernandez was charged for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a former football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins. Hernandez was let go from the team even though he told his coach he had nothing to do with the murder. As the documentary shows, he was able to play a successful season with the Patriots even though he had killed someone. 

The trailer also explores one of the most interesting aspects of the life of Hernandez, which concerned his mental health caused by CTE.

Credit: Netflix / YouTube

The documentary shows how Hernandez went from being a fun-loving yet troubled kid to an angry adult that would get violent at the drop of a dime. That kind of drastic change, including his suicide, is speculated to have been a result of his diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is caused after a person receives multiple blows to the head. It’s been highly reported that, more often than not, NFL players have been diagnosed with CTE. The unfortunate aspect of this illness is that people cannot be diagnosed until they are dead. That is when their brains can be studied. 

The symptoms of CTE include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, anxiety, suicidality, parkinsonism, and, eventually, progressive dementia.  Hernandez clearly showed many of these symptoms, including his eventual suicide in 2017. 

Check out the trailer below. 

READ: After Aaron Hernandez’s Brain Was Donated For CTE Research, It Was Found That He Had The Worst Case Of CTE For Someone His Age

Four Guards At Rikers Island Have Been Suspended Because They Are Believed To Have Let An Teenager Commit Suicide

Things That Matter

Four Guards At Rikers Island Have Been Suspended Because They Are Believed To Have Let An Teenager Commit Suicide

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Four New York City Rikers Island correction officers, including a captain, have been suspended for knowingly failing to intervene in a teen detainee’s suicide attempt for seven minutes. The night before Thanksgiving, Nicholas Feliciano, 18, was jumped by seven other inmates and left with a gash on his face. Instead of taking him to the infirmary, guards placed him in a holding cell where he hung himself from a pipe with his shirt. Whistleblowers from the prison have told The New York Times that one guard actually opened Feliciano’s cell door to find him hanging from the pipe, closed the door, and walked away. A witness told The New York Times that, after Feliciano stepped off the toilet partition, he changed his mind and tried to find the partition to free himself from the makeshift noose. Feliciano hung for seven minutes without any intervention, and it was more than a half-hour before paramedics were able to whisk him away from the prison complex. 

Feliciano was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was put into an induced coma on Tuesday. He has yet to show signs of brain activity.

At first, the Department of Corrections wouldn’t allow Feliciano’s family to visit him in the hospital.

CREDIT: LEGAL AID SOCIETY

The Legal Aid Society, which has taken up Feliciano’s case, penned a letter to the DOC to request charges against the teen be dropped. “This is unacceptable. He poses no security risk and needs his family at his bedside at this critical time,” the letter reads. According to Legal Aid Society, the family had to wait to be cleared by DOC to visit him, were not allowed to bring anything inside his hospital room, or even photograph him. 

In response, the New York State Department of Correction and Community Supervision canceled Feliciano’s parole warrant.

CREDIT: @LEGALAIDNYC / TWITTER

That meant that Feliciano was no longer in the custody of the state, and his family was free to visit him at their leisure. “We are relieved that the New York State Department of Correction and Community Supervision canceled the parole warrant pending against Nicholas Feliciano, our client who is still battling for his life at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens,” reads a statement from The Legal Aid Society. The organization maintains that the act is too little too late for the much more serious “concerns over the New York City Department of Correction’s failure to properly screen and address Mr. Feliciano’s mental health issues, which were known to the City at the time of his remand,” the statement continues. 

Feliciano was charged with robbery, but because of his age, the court gave him a short sentence and kept his criminal record sealed. Within weeks of his release, Feliciano had violated his parole by testing positive for drugs, skipping mandated programs, attempting to purchase a gun, and traveling past state lines to visit a girlfriend. When Feliciano arrived at his parole meeting, he was taken into custody and scheduled to be arraigned more than a month later. The Legal Aid Society of New York is using Feliciano as a tragic example for “the need for Albany to enact comprehensive parole reform legislation immediately next session to address cases like Nicholas’, where the alleged violation of parole does not rise to the level of a new criminal charge.”

Feliciano has a history of mental illness, including suicide attempts, says the Legal Aid Society. 

CREDIT: @RENTALSINMIAMI / TWITTER

According to The New York Times’s report, Feliciano was taken out of the general population holding area after getting into a fight in order to get him medical attention. He waited for six hours in a holding cell without medical attention. An hour before he attempted suicide, he was taken out of a two-person cell and placed in a cell by himself. An hour and a half later, he was hanging off a pipe while correction officers stood by. An off-duty captain saw closed-circuit surveillance footage of Feliciano hanging and rushed to take him down. According to The New York Times, an official said Feliciano didn’t have a pulse for two minutes. 

In response, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted, “The people in our jails are human beings. Their well-being is our responsibility. These allegations are deeply troubling. The 3 officers and their supervisor have been suspended and an investigation is underway. We’re taking immediate action.” The New York City Council voted October 17 to close Rikers prison complex and the chapter on its disturbing human rights violations.

READ: NYC Determines Layleen Polanco’s Death Might Have Had To Do With Her State In Solitary Confinement