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.
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However, now CNN reports that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that “abatement ab initio” is “outdated and no longer consonant with the circumstances of contemporary life, if, in fact, it ever was.”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.
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.
Via: Wikipedia / Jeffrey Beall / Flickr
“This decision has helped the family tremendously to obtain closure from the horrible loss of their beloved Odin,” the Lloyd family said through a representative. “He was an inspiration to all who knew him and a devoted member of his family and the entire community.”
Hernandez’s former attorney was dismayed by the court’s decision stating:
“We think the Court departed from its usual standards in coming to this decision and intend to seek reconsideration of that aspect of its decision that applies its newly minted law to Mr. Hernandez’s case,” he said in a statement. “The Court has overlooked an essential point of fairness in applying its new rule to this case.”
Hopefully now, the Lloyd and Hernandez families can rest and begin to move forward with their lives following the latest court decision.