Aaron Hernandez a Free Man in Spirit, and an Innocent man by law
With all the news enclosing the passing of former NFL player Aaron Hernandez, most are shocked at the hearing of a Massachusetts law that allows Hernandez to travel to his grave an innocent man.
According to the lawful policy in use in Massachusetts titled abatement ab initio, the person who was convicted of a crime but dies before the conclusion of their appeal, that person’s legal records regarding the issue are erased.
This means that everything that took place from the beginning of a compliant being filed to an indictment being secured by the prosecutor, even the trial that captivated millions will be considered null and void by the law. It will be as if it never happened.
Just recently as a few days ago, past NFL Patriots’ team player Aaron Hernandez was cleared for both homicides of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado that occurred in 2012. The charge he was found guilty of which had Aaron Hernandez in a cell where he took his life this past Wednesday was the 2013 homicide of Odin Lloyd. Aaron Hernandez was condemned to life in prison without ever obtaining parole.
Aaron Hernandez’s criminal defense legal team was pursuing an overturn of the verdict in the Lloyd case through appeal. The verdict in the Abreu-Furtado case did not have an influence on the prior conviction.
Most people are not well versed in legalese think that once a conviction takes place the story is over, but in reality, the process is not finished until all the appeals have been exhausted. Now, Hernandez’s attorneys must file a motion for abatement ab initio in court trailed by a judge ordering it.
The law is based on the premise that a person is innocent until proven guilty. If a Superior Court finds a person guilty, a Court of Appeals can overturn that verdict or instruct that; a new trial is given if the appeals shed light on serious mistakes that were made in the first trial.
Paradoxically, by Aaron Hernandez taking his life, the appeals process is not able to continue thereby giving the courts the reason and permission to have the conviction removed.
There will undoubtedly be a lot of controversy behind a decision like this. This was a big case and it has a lot of public attention from different angles. This will be a prominent moment in current court history. The biggest issue one could imagine will be surrounding the subject of victim’s rights.
The abatement ab initio has its roots in common law going back to the English law when Massachusetts was still a British colony. Only a handful of states that still recognize the law today and most have modified it or nullified it all together.
The law was used as a means to negate all criminal records starting from the indictment to the conviction in cases where the person/defendant has met death before the finalization of an appeal. The term abatement ab initio is a Latin term that means “from the beginning.”
If abatement ab initio goes through for Aaron Hernandez, it will open up many avenues for the Hernandez Estate to defend any civil claims against it. The plaintiff’s lawyers, in this case, would not be able to use any of the evidence introduced at trial to win a civil judgment against the Hernandez Estate. This would also give some litany to the Hernandez family if they were to go after the NFL for the voiding Aaron Hernandez’s contract after his indictment. This all remains to be seen and cannot be seen conclusively from where things stand right now.
As far as the thoughts that are swirling around the death of Aaron Hernandez, it seems that there are people who cannot fathom a man taking his own life so young who was facing life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Some people are looking at his financial situation as a means to an end. For starters, Hernandez started his first trial with a highly paid attorney, but by the second trial came around he had a state attorney to defend him. It could be that he did not receive much of that $40 million dollar contract to support the fees and knowing that he could possibly be in prison without a single cent for the rest of his life depressed him to the point of suicide.
There has been a steady stream of thoughts since the beginning of the first trial that maybe Hernandez suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and this is the reason for his behavior. The head condition is a degenerative neurological condition brought on by repeated head trauma. It is proven to bring on massive changes in personality and behavior, including violence and depression.
There has been a string of evidence that this disease, CTE, affects a vast majority of ex-NFL players. There have been numerous NFL players before Aaron Hernandez that have been caught up in violence and death. If you think back to Ray Easterling, former Atlanta Falcons player, and Junior Seau former San Diego Chargers player, they both committed suicide in 2012.
Remember Chicago Bears player Dave Duerson who shot his self in 2011? Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher murdered his significant other then traveled to the training center where he turned the weapon on his self and took his own life in front of the team’s GM.
All of these players were shown to have the neurological disease CTE and this may have been a factor in Aaron Hernandez’s death also. As time passes, things will become clear, we think. Either way, there will be something to talk about and someone somewhere will feel the pain behind all of this.
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