The murder conviction of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was vacated back in May, following the athlete’s April suicide in his jail cell.
Now, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn has filed an appeal of that decision, which followed a Massachusetts legality called the abatement doctrine that vacates a murder conviction if someone dies before completing the appeals process.
Quinn debated the decision at the time of the judge’s ruling, writing in a court filing that abatement is not always required, especially when “a defendant’s death is the result of his own conscious, deliberate and voluntary act,” such as suicide.
Quinn has now filed an appeal, asking one justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court to overturn the trial judge’s ruling, according to WBZ.
The abatement doctrine is outdated, he argues.
“This is an archaic rule not based on the Constitution, and it should be changed,” Quinn said of his decision to appeal, according to WBZ. “A defendant who commits suicide should not be able to manipulate the outcome of his post-conviction proceedings to achieve in death what he would not be able to achieve in life.”
The murder conviction that was vacated pertained to the 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd, for which Hernandez was found guilty in a 2015 trial.
“We are asking the Supreme Judicial Court to address this antiquated rule, which does not serve the public interest,” Quinn said.
Days before his suicide, Hernandez was acquitted in another trial for the 2012 murders of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.
Hernandez’s estate is still facing wrongful death suits from the victims’ families.