Two years ago, a Massachusetts jury found Aaron Hernandezguilty of first-degree murder for the killing of Odin Lloyd in 2013. His suicide Wednesday, however, complicates things as it relates to the letter of the law.
Hernandez suicide while Lloyd case on appeal vacates conviction for Lloyd's death. Not a convicted murderer in death. Odd twist.— MichaelCoyne (@DeanCoyne) April 19, 2017
As attorney Michael Coyne pointed out on Twitter, his death will likely result in a vacated conviction as Hernandez was in the process of an appeal. An example of this happened with former Catholic priestJohn Geoghan, who was part of the plot to the recent movie "Spotlight."
Geoghan was found guiltyof indecentassaultandbattery after being accused of sexually assaulting children. While in prison and awaiting appeal, a cellmate murderedGeoghan. TheMassachusetts Appeals Court vacated the conviction after his death, which CJOnline noted at the time "is customary under Massachusetts law."
Essentially, as Coyne wrote on Twitter,"[Hernandez] can't assist with his appeal so conviction is vacated." He has a constitutional right to assist in his own appeal process, but since he's not there, the conviction will be vacated.
Hernandez's attorneys will need to file a notice of appeal in order for this to happen, which is likely, if it hasn't been done already.