FALL RIVER, Mass. — Judge Susan Garsh ruled Tuesday that Aaron Hernandez‘s 2013 murder conviction will be vacated. Garsh agreed to erase the conviction in the murder of Odin Lloyd because Hernandez died before his appeal was heard.
Lawyers for Hernandez asked the judge to disregard documents included with the state’s opposition to the dismissal of his conviction.
The defense said in a filing before Tuesday’s hearing that the documents which include the state’s death certificate and excerpts from a suicide note the former New England Patriots tight end wrote to his fiancee are irrelevant to the proceedings.
The defense asked that its motion be heard at the same time the judge considers whether to erase Hernandez’s conviction.
Hernandez was found hanged in his cell April 19. He was serving a life sentence for Lloyd’s killing.
Hernandez’s attorneys made their request under a long-standing legal principle holding that when defendants die before their direct appeal is decided, their convictions are vacated. Attorney John Thompson said the conviction is not considered final until it is decided by a higher court.
Prosecutor Patrick Bomberg said Hernandez “should not be able to accomplish in death what he could not accomplish in life.”
Hernandez’s appellate attorney told the judge that the state’s highest court has applied the legal doctrine “without exception,” even in cases of suicide.
After hearing arguments from both sides, Garsh issued her decision late Tuesday morning.