Aaron Hernandez had his murder conviction vacated by a judge in Massachusetts on Tuesday, an expected move after the former New England Patriots tight end was found hanged in his prison cell last month.
Judge Susan Garsh, a justice of the Superior Court in Bristol County, in her ruling cited longstanding precedent when it came to vacating the convictions of defendants who have pending appeals.
“In the interests of justice, the court has no choice but to vacate Hernandez's conviction and dismissing the charges against him,” Garsh explained.
Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder in 2015 in the death two years prior of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player who had dated the sister of Hernandez's fiancee.
Prosecutors argued that Hernandez killed himself because he had knowledge that his conviction would be vacated, and that was grounds for keeping the conviction in place.
"The court cannot know why Hernandez chose to end his life," Garsh said, "and declines to infer an intent by Hernandez to relinquish his appellate rights or intended to interfere with the course of justice from his suicide, a tragic act that may have complex and myriad causes."