Aaron Hernandez Murder Conviction Overturned?

Aaron Hernandez was the youngest player on any active roster in the NFL when he was drafted by the Patriots in 2010. He was born in Bristol, Connecticut and in high school he set state records for receiving yards in a single game and career touchdowns. After high school he went on to attend the University of Florida, leading the Gators to victory and receiving the coveted John Mackey Award for the nation’s best tight-end. In his senior year of college he entered the 2010 NFL Draft and signed a four-year contract with the Patriots in June 2010. In 2012, he signed a contract extension for a total of $40 million, one of the most lucrative contracts in the NFL to date. However, this contract was dissolved just one year later when Hernandez was arrested for the murder of Odin Lloyd.

Hernandez had a laundry list of legal troubles before Lloyd, beginning in April 2007 when he was involved in a Gainesville bar fight. He refused to pay his bill and punched an employee in the head, rupturing his eardrum. The incident was settled out of court and Hernandez was not charged with a crime.

In September 2007, five shots were fired into a car with three male passengers in Gainesville. The men described the shooter as having a large build and a lot of tattoos. One man was shot in the arm and one in the head, but there were no fatalities. Hernandez refused to speak with police and was not charged with a crime.

In July 2012, Hernandez was investigated for a double murder that occurred in Boston. Two men were shot and killed by gunshots fired into their car. Hernandez was acquitted for the murders on April 14, 2017 but was found guilty of illegal possession of a handgun.

In June 2013, a lawsuit was filed against Hernandez in the state of Florida. Alexander Bradley claimed that Hernandez shot him while they were riding in a car together after a fight at a Miami strip club. He was charged with witness intimidation, because Bradley was a witness to the 2012 double homicide. The charge was later dropped after the 2017 trial.

In June 2013, Hernandez was investigated for the murder of his friend Odin Lloyd. His body was found a mile from Hernandez’s house in an industrial park, riddled with gunshot wounds. Two days after the body was found, the Patriots announced that Hernandez was barred from Gillette Stadium. Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder, as well as five firearm charges. In the state of Massachusetts, a first-degree murder conviction requires life in prison without parole.

On April 19, 2017 Hernandez was found dead in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Massachusetts. The cause of death was apparent suicide. No suicide note was found, although a bible verse was written on his forehead—John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

The story doesn’t end there. An old Massachusetts law appears to void Hernandez’s murder conviction. The legal principle of “abatement ab initio” or “from the beginning” means that if a person dies during a legal process or before their appeals are exhausted, the case reverts back to the beginning, effectively erasing the conviction. Because Hernandez was in the process of appealing the conviction, this principle could apply, according to the chief legal counsel of the Massachusetts Bar Association—effectively voiding the murder conviction.

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