Bill would ensure Aaron Hernandez suicide won’t null verdict
Convicts who commit suicide would forfeit their right to an appeal — thus keeping their conviction intact — under a new bill a Boston lawmaker said would change the antiquated law that wiped away Aaron Hernandez’s murder conviction.
“This highlighted a problem in our system,” said state Rep. Evandro Carvalho, a Dorchester Democrat and former prosecutor who filed the bill after hearing from Ursula Ward, mother of Odin L. Lloyd, whom Hernandez was convicted in 2015 of murdering in a North Attleboro industrial park.
“I think this is beyond symbolism,” he said, adding, “We’re trying to say, in the future it shouldn’t happen.”
After the former New England Patriots star committed suicide in his jail cell in April, a judge threw out his murder conviction based on a legal doctrine that requires a conviction be vacated if a defendant dies during a pending appeal.
Hernandez’s death came just days after he was acquitted of double murder in a separate 2012 shooting in Boston.
Carvalho said Ward, who lives in his district, later contacted him, prompting him to craft the bill, which states that any defendant who commits suicide would “automatically forfeit” his or her right to an appeal.
“I think it’s revictimizing those individuals even to just go through that,” he said. “She (Ward) was distraught. The fact that she even had to sit through it, for me, it’s common sense” to change the law.
Ward, in a brief phone interview, said of the bill, “If this doesn’t help Odin, it will help someone else in the future.”
It’s unclear if the Legislature will embrace the change. The bill, filed yesterday, had a half-dozen co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle.
But state Sen. William N. Brownsberger, who chairs the Joint Judiciary Committee, told the Herald last month he had no problem with the status quo. The bill would likely go through his committee.