A Massachusetts judge vacated Aaron Hernandez's 2013 conviction in the murder of Odin Lloyd on Tuesday because the former Patriots tight end died while his appeal was pending, reports the Hartford Courant. The decision comes three weeks after Hernandez committed suicide in his prison cell.

Prosecutors urged Judge Susan Garsh not to dismiss the charges against Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for Lloyd's murder, arguing that he chose to commit suicide before his appeal was heard.

"This is not a defendant who has arrived at the killing of himself by happenstance," Bristol County assistant district attorney Patrick Bomberg told Judge Garsh, according the Boston Globe. "The defendant should not be able to accomplish in death what he couldn't accomplish in life."

More details, via the Courant:

The legal principle that reversed Hernandez's conviction posthumously is known as "abatement ab initio" — a Latin phrase meaning "from the beginning" — and dates to when Massachusetts was a British colony. The abatement doctrine states that it is discriminatory to a defendant or survivors to allow a conviction to stand before they have a chance to fully appeal it. Hernandez hanged himself in a Massachusetts prison last month.

Days after Hernandez's suicide, Lloyd's mother reportedly asked the Patriots for $6 million as part of a wrongful death lawsuit.

The Patriots gave Hernandez a contract extension in 2012, two years after drafting him in the fourth round, and that deal included more than $16 million in guaranteed money. The team released Hernandez almost immediately after he was arrested in June 2013 and didn't pay him $5.91 million of that guaranteed total. 

Days before his suicide, Hernandez was found not guilty in the 2012 double murder of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. He was survived by his fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, and their 4-year-old daughter.