The murder conviction of Aaron Hernandez, shown in 2012, has been reinstated by the highest court in MA. Two years later, the 27-year-old killed himself in his prison cell days after being acquitted of most charges in a separate double-murder case.
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.
In their decision, the court wrote, "We conclude that the doctrine of abatement ab initio is outdated and no longer consonant with the circumstances of contemporary life". Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn II argued the defendant's estate should be allowed to appeal the case, if they wish.
There was no immediate comment from Hernandez's attorney.
Previously, under a legal principle known by the Latin phrase "ab initio", the Supreme Judicial Court had held a conviction should be removed from the record if the defendant died before his or her trial had been examined by an appeals court.
John Salvi was convicted of murder in 1996 for opening fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Brookline, but his conviction was vacated when he committed suicide in prison before his appeal was heard.
How states handle cases such as Hernandez's varies widely.
"The current practice. does not consider the interest of the other parties who have an interest in the outcome, ' Quinn told the Boston Globe at the time".
Under the new order, if a defendant passes before their appeal, the conviction stands without any affirmation or nullification.
Other high-profile MA criminals whose convictions have been erased after their deaths include John Salvi, who was convicted of killing two abortion clinic workers and wounding five other people during a shooting rampage in Brookline in 1994. Add Aaron Hernandez as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Aaron Hernandez news, video, and analysis from ABC News.