In death, Hernandez's murder conviction likely to be tossed

In death, Hernandez's murder conviction likely to be tossed

BOSTON -- In death, Aaron Hernandez may not be a guilty man in the eyes of the law.

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Under a long-standing Massachusetts legal principle, courts customarily vacate the convictions of defendants who die before their appeals are heard.

Hernandez, a former NFL star, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez's finance.

Massachusetts prison officials said Hernandez was found hanging in his prison cell early Wednesday. His death came less than a week after his acquittal on murder charges in the shooting deaths of two men in Boston in 2012.

Hernandez's attorneys can move to have the conviction in the Lloyd case erased, said Martin Healy, chief legal counsel for the Massachusetts Bar Association.

"For all intent and practical purposes, Aaron Hernandez will die an innocent man, but the court of public opinion may think differently," said Healy.

The legal principle is called "abatement ab initio," or "from the beginning." It holds that is unfair to the defendant or to his or her survivors if a conviction is allowed to stand before they had a chance to clear their names on appeal, in case some kind or error or other injustice was determined to have occurred at trial, Healy said.

"It's a surprising result for the public to understand," he added.

All first-degree murder convictions in Massachusetts trigger an automatic appeal. Hernandez's appeal had not yet been heard by the state's high court.

Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for the district attorney's office which prosecuted the Lloyd case, would not comment on the possibility of the conviction being vacated.

Removing a conviction after the death of a high-profile defendant is not without precedent in recent state history.

The child molestation conviction of former Roman Catholic priest John Geoghan, a key figure in the clergy sex abuse scandal that rocked the Boston archdiocese, was vacated after he was beaten to death in 2003 in his cell at the same Massachusetts maximum-security prison.

John Salvi, who was convicted of killing two abortion clinic workers and wounding five other people during a shooting rampage in Brookline in 1994, also had his convictions tossed after he killed himself in prison.

Report: Hernandez jurors were invited to funeral

Report: Hernandez jurors were invited to funeral

A member of the jury that acquitted Aaron Hernandez of double-murder said jurors were invited to Hernandez’s funeral by defense attorney Jose Baez, The Boston Herald reported. 

Hernandez, the former Patriots tight end who was already serving a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd when he was acquitted in the 2012 double-murder in Boston, killed himself in his prison cell last week. His funeral was in his hometown of Bristol, Connecticut on Monday. 

One juror told the Herald that Baez offered to pay for bus to have jury attend funeral. 

More from the Herald report: 

“I was invited, but I decided ultimately not to go,” said Robert Monroe, one of 12 jurors who on April 14 acquitted Hernandez of the murders of Cape Verdean immigrants Daniel de Abreu, 29, and Safiro Furtado, 28. Both were living in Dorchester.

“I received a message, if any of the jurors wanted to go to the Aaron Hernandez funeral, that [Hernandez’s attorney] Jose Baez would rent a bus to get us back and forth,” Monroe told the Herald today.

 

Report: Giants, Blount have 'mutual interest'

Report: Giants, Blount have 'mutual interest'

The Patriots’ offseason activity with regard to running backs essentially ended LeGarrette Blount’s time in New England. Now he’s looking for his next team. 

According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, there is “mutual interest” between Blount and the Giants. 

Blount played last season on a one-year, $1 million in New England. Though he is coming off a career-best 1,161 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns, the 30-year-old’s spot on New England’s roster disappeared with the team’s acquisitions of Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee. 

The Patriots officially acquired Gillislee on a two-year contract Monday when the Bills declined to match New England’s contract offer to the restricted free agent. By declining to match, the Bills received a fifth-round pick from the Pats for the 26-year-old.