Aaron Hernandez’s conviction was vacated today. The legal term for this is abatement ab initio which dates back to common law in Massachusetts. If the appeal process resulting from a conviction to a crime has not been completed and the appellant dies, their conviction gets wiped out. The reasoning behind this is that they didn’t have the chance to exonerate himself and prove his innocence.
This has occurred two other times in recent years as well. Fr. John Geoghan and John Salvi”s convictions were vacated when they died in prison prior to the completion of the appeals process.