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Hernandez suicide inspires bill to uphold convictions

The current law vacates convictions if the defendant dies before finishing the appeals process.

Aaron Hernandez seen in court in April 2015, facing charges of murder in the death of Odin Lloyd. He was convicted of the crime but that was overturned after his April 2017 suicide.

Photo: Reuters

After a judge vacated the murder conviction against Aaron Hernandez following the former New England Patriots player's prison suicide, Rep. Evandro Carvalho said he watched the victim's mother experience a sense of hopelessness and loss of faith in the justice system.

Carvalho, a Boston Democrat, filed a bill Tuesday that would end the practice known as abatement ab initio — where a conviction is wiped out if the defendant dies before exhausting the appeals process — in cases when the defendant dies by suicide.

Carvalho said he hopes it will ensure "no family will ever need to go through the trauma" experienced by the mother of murder victim Odin Lloyd.

Lloyd, a semi-professional football player, was killed in June 2013, and Hernandez was found guilty of his murder nearly two years later.

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Carvalho said in a statement to the News Service that Lloyd's mother Ursula Ward "stood strong throughout the process as a spokesman for her family and justice" and then "had to relive her son's death" after Hernandez's April 19 suicide.

Carvalho said after meeting with Ward, his constituent, he felt "a responsibility to help however I could." Carvalho's bill has not yet been referred to a legislative committee. 

The issue has come before Beacon Hill before. In 1997, after the suicide of John Salvi, who was convicted of murdering two women at Brookline reproductive clinics, the Senate passed a law that would prevent courts from erasing the convictions of people who die before their appeals are heard.

 
 
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