Despite being convicted two years ago for the 2013 first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez technically died an innocent man.
That's because a judge dismissed Hernandez's murder conviction in a Massachusetts court this morning, agreeing with an old, obscure state law which reasons that a conviction can't stand if the appeals process wasn't completed.
Since the former NFL star was appealing that conviction at the time he committed suicide on April 19, his death essentially wiped out all proceedings allowing him to technically die innocent according to the abatement ab inito doctrine, as reported by TMZ Sports.
Upon hearing the ruling, Lloyd's sister, Olivia Ward, burst into tears, leaving the courtroom alongside Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, and Lloyd's girlfriend, Sheneah Jenkins, who is also the estranged sister of Hernandez's fiancée Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez.
So, what does today's decision mean for Ward's wrongful death civil lawsuit against the former New England Patriots tight end? Well, Ward would have to independently retry the murder charge against Hernandez in front of a new jury, almost as if the original trial never happened. Unbelievable.
That is, unless the Bristol County District Attorney's Office's appeal of today's decision is successful.
Prosecutors brought up Hernandez's suicide note to his fiancée, especially the part of the letter in which he writes, "You're rich." They reasoned that Hernandez knew all along that if his conviction was vacated that the Patriots would have to pay the remainder of his contract, which is roughly $6 million.
Immediately following Hernandez's suicide, Ward pleaded with the Patriots to do the right thing and pay the amount to the victims' families.
Hernandez's lead attorney, Jose Baez, told TMZ today that his legal team is already speaking with Aaron's former agents to see how the tossed murder conviction will affect his Patriots contract.
Baez added that he's "determined to change the legacy of Aaron Hernandez," continuing his independent investigation into how the 27-year-old died last month.
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(Photo: Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)