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Judge Claims Aaron Hernandez Innocent For Previous Murder Conviction In Rarely Used Legal Principle

Andrew Santiago

Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh has cleared former NFL Patriots star Aaron Hernandez of all charges in the murder case in which he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Due to a Massachusetts legal precedent, Hernandez technically died an innocent man.

By committing suicide when he did, Aaron Hernandez was cleared of murder charges.


After being acquitted of a double murder, and with his previous conviction in appeals when he died, legally speaking, Hernandez died an innocent, 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.”

According to the Globe, Bristol D.A. prosecutor, Thomas M. Quinn III, plans 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.”

All of this news comes on the heels of the release of Hernandez’s suicide note, released just last Friday.

In a Bristol County Superior Court legal filing on Friday, Hernandez’s suicide note to his fiancé, Shayanna Jenkins, was on full display. In it, Hernandez tells 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?

In a legal briefing filed on Friday at Bristol County Superior Court, a copy of one of Hernandez’s suicide notes was made public.

Credit: Bristol Superior Court

The tone of the note is in stark contrast to the events that were about to unfold. He writes lovingly to his fiancé, calling her an “angel – literally!” He asks 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 ends 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 which have yet to be disclosed to the public, 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 was convicted of killing, filed a civil suit against Hernandez.

Hernandez’s prior conviction could have served as evidence of wrong doing in their civil case against him. Now they’ll have to go to trial without Hernandez. Could this be what Hernandez was referring to in his note? The part where he writes to his fiancé “(You’re Rich)” may have been an indicator that he thought his suicide would help sidestep the proceedings and allow his estate to go directly to his family as an innocent man.

There’s no way to know for certain. And it doesn’t seem like his estate will go easily to his family, as Lloyd’s mother Ursula Ward, is going forward with her civil case against Hernandez. According to the Boston Globe, “The court has already handed down a judgment in favor of Ward. Only damages are left to be argued.” Those “damages” could still be a large sum of money, as the Boston Globe reported. As part of Hernandez’s estate, those funds could end up with Ward, who has said any money she’d win in court would go toward a scholarship fund. In that case, Hernandez’s fiancé may not be as “Rich” as he had hoped.

The developments of this story seem to be never ending and we’re sure to be hearing about it for years to come.

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

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