An effort by Bristol prosecutors to reinstate Aaron Hernandez’s first degree murder conviction – voided after the former New England Patriot committed suicide in prison – has been rejected by a single justice of the state’s highest court.
However, Justice David Lowy opened the door for Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III to ask the full Supreme Judicial Court whether justice is served by allowing a criminal conviction to be wiped off a person’s record if they die before their trial is reviewed by an appellate court.
“Should the case be appealed, this Court will give consideration to an application for direct appellate review,’’ Lowy wrote on Friday.
Hernandez was convicted in Bristol Superior Court in 2015 for murdering Odin L. Lloyd in North Attleborough in 2013 and an attorney had been assigned to handle the appeal, which was expected to be heard by the SJC in the future.
However, before that could happen, Hernandez committed suicide in the state’s maximum security prison on April 14, five days after he was acquitted in Suffolk Superior Court for murdering two men in Boston.
At the request of Hernandez’s appellate lawyers, John and Linda Thompson, Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh vacated the conviction in May, citing decades of precedent to support the legal theory that a conviction is not final until a trial is examined by an appellate court.
Quinn challenged Garsh’s ruling, contending that it would unjust for Hernandez to be legally considered an innocent man after a jury found him guilty of first degree murder, the state’s most heinous crime.
Lowy rejected the request on Friday.
“The petition is denied,’’ Lowy wrote, adding he would not use a legal short cut as prosecutors had asked him to do. The legal shortcut is “exercised only in exceptional circumstances and is not a substitute for normal appellate review. The Commonwealth may appeal Judge Garsh’s order in the normal course.”
Quinn’s office could not be immediately reached for comment.
Source: Boston Globe (John R. Ellement)
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