A US judge on Tuesday overturned the 2015 murder conviction of former American football star Aaron Hernandez, three weeks after he committed suicide in prison.
Hernandez, 27 -- a former tight end for the New England Patriots -- hanged himself with a bed sheet in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center on April 19. His death was ruled a suicide by the state medical examiner.
The father of one had been serving a life sentence handed down in 2015 for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. Five days before his death, he was acquitted on double murder charges in a separate Boston killing in 2012.
Massachusetts Judge Susan Garsch agreed Tuesday to vacate his 2015 conviction because Hernandez died before his appeal could be heard.
"In the interests of justice, the court has no choice but to abate the proceedings... by vacating Hernandez's convictions and dismissing the charges against him," she said from the bench in Fall River, south of Boston.
Hernandez's death ended a spectacular fall from grace for a man who signed a seven-year $40 million contract in 2012 with the Patriots after a troubled upbringing in Connecticut.
He was sentenced to life without parole for murdering semi-pro football player Lloyd in June 2013. Lloyd's bloodied body was found less than a mile from Hernandez's luxury Massachusetts home. The two men had been dating sisters.
The murder weapon was never discovered, but analysts said the evidence against Hernandez was overwhelming. He is survived by a four-year-old daughter and a fiancee.
© 2017 AFP