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DA: Time to revisit law that would vacate Aaron Hernandez murder conviction

April 20, 2017 GMT

The state legislature should revisit a law that may allow Aaron Hernandez’s murder conviction to be vacated, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said today.

“This is something the legislature might want to look at,” Conley said, referring to the common-law doctrine known as abatement ab initio.

Attorneys appealing Hernandez’s 2015 first-degree murder conviction told the Herald yesterday that they will seek to have it vacated under the doctrine because he committed suicide before the Supreme Judicial Court heard his appeal in the case of the 2013 death of semiprofessional football player Odin Lloyd.

“It does seem to be a bit of a tough pill for a family, like the Lloyd family, to swallow,” Conley said. “He had a full and fair trial, he was represented by extremely competent council, he was found guilty by a jury of his peers and really that should stand.”

The doctrine is based on the principle that until the state’s highest court hears an appeal, a verdict cannot be considered final.

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But Conley said most members of the public will forever view the former Patriots’ tight end as a killer.

“In the court of public opinion, there very few people who think Aaron Hernandez is not responsible for the homicide of Odin Lloyd,” Conley said this afternoon. “And we felt strongly we certainly had enough evidence for this jury to have found him guilty in the homicide of Daniel (de Abreu) and Safiro (Furtado) as well.”

Hernandez, who won an acquittal in the Suffolk County double murder trial last Friday, was found dead early yesterday morning by prison officials who say he hung himself with a bed sheet tied to the window of his cell inside the Sousa-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley.

Conley said he was “shocked” at the news of Hernandez’s death and that his thoughts immediately went to the families of the two Cape Verdean men his office charged the fallen NFL star with killing in the summer of 2012,

“He won’t die an innocent man,” Conley said. “In the court of public opinion, I believe Aaron Hernandez is somebody who had a troubled past, a violent history. While the court may vacate his conviction, I think most people understand he is responsible for (Lloyd’s murder).”

Hernandez’s death is being investigated by state police assigned to Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr., which today said the medical examiner’s office has determined it was a suicide, but the lead defense attorney in the recent double murder case, Jose Baez, has vowed his own look into his client’s death.

“(Baez) can say what he wants, but quite frankly he’s just ill-equipped to do a criminal investigation into the death of anyone,” Conley said, adding he has complete confidence in Early’s office to do a thorough investigation.He added: “We’ll never really know what was in the mind of Aaron Hernandez. I never met the man personally, I observed him very closely. He was a complicated individual who was able to compartmentalize his life in so many different ways.”