The state's Supreme Judicial Court declared outdated the legal principle, based in English canonical law, that deems a conviction final only if a lower-court finding has been considered by an appeals court. Just two years after being convicted, Hernandez died of suicide in his cell. The ruling does not affect past cases.
Lloyd, a former semi-pro football player, was shot multiple times in a parking lot near Hernandez's home on June 17, 2013. His death came only a few days after being acquitted in a separate double murder case.
MA courts had generally recognized a legal rule called "abatement ab initio", or abatement, in which convictions are thrown out if a defendant dies prior his or her appeal being resolved. The prosecution then appealed, seeking to have the conviction reinstated.
How other states handle cases such as Hernandez's varies widely.
Massachusetts' highest court began to consider Thursday whether to end the long-standing legal practice that "wipes out" a person's conviction if the defendant dies before all appeals are exhausted.
Hernandez's attorney had previously argued the legal doctrine should remain intact, saying juries make mistakes.
"The SJC did not state a cogent reason for applying this new rule to Mr. Hernandez's case, and there is no reason in the record that justifies that aspect of this decision", John Thompson and Linda Thompson said in a statement.
The murder conviction of Aaron Hernandez, shown in 2012, has been reinstated by the highest court in MA. While prosecutors may be cheerful with today's victory over a dead man, were that fighter not ill, and still alive today, the sentiment would be that of concern; based on the evidence we had ready to present, reversal of his conviction was a near certainty. Otherwise, the conviction should stand, he said.
"What it means is that Lloyd's family might be able to collect from the estate", Bloom said.
"This decision has helped the family to obtain closure from the frightful loss of their beloved son Odin", Attorney Doug Sheff said in a statement.