Thanks to archaic legal principle, Aaron Hernandez died innocent in court's eyes

Aaron Hernandez was convicted of the murder of Odin Lloyd in 2015. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Thanks to a legal principle called "abatement ab initio," however, the state of Massachusetts now considers Hernandez an innocent man. 

Per the Boston Globe:

In the eyes of the state of Massachusetts, former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez died an innocent man, thanks to an archaic legal principle called "abatement ab initio," said Martin W. Healy, chief legal counsel to the Massachusetts Bar Association. Though Hernandez was convicted in 2014 of murdering Odin Lloyd of Boston, Hernandez's appeal was not complete. Abatement ab initio means "from the beginning," Healy said, and it means that upon a person's death, if they have not exhausted their legal appeals, their case reverts to its status at the beginning -- it's as if the trial and conviction never happened.

"Unfortunately, in the Odin Lloyd matter, for the family, there won't be any real closure," said Healy. "Aaron Hernandez will go to his death an innocent man." The principle comes from English common law, Healy said, and is observed by several of the older states in the nation. It rarely comes up in practice, he said, and people forget it exists."

Hernandez was found dead in his jail cell Wednesday morning, having committed suicide by hanging days after he was acquitted on double-murder charges in the 2012 deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. 

William Kennedy, attorney for Furtado's family, said the Abreu and Furtado families did not take any solace in Hernandez's death.

"The family has their own loss to concentrate on, the loss of these two young fellows," Kennedy said, per the Globe. "I don't think they take any joy in the loss of the Hernandez family. ... That's the way they are. They keep God in their hearts at all times."

Hernandez, 27, is survived by his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, and their 4-year-old daughter.

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined CBSSports.com in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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