Aaron Hernandez is now an innocent man in the eyes of the law, in Massachusetts at least.
The 2013 murder conviction against the former New England Patriots player was overturned on Tuesday due to a state law citing that defendants who die before their appeals are heard should have their convictions vacated.
Bristol County Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh said she was compelled to follow precedent in dismissing the “guilty” ruling for the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, according to ESPN.
Hernandez, 27, committed suicide by hanging himself with a bed sheet while serving a life sentence at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, on April 19 while serving a life sentence.
“This court cannot know why Hernandez chose to end his life,” Judge Garsh said, adding that there might be “complex and myriad” reasons.
Prosecutors plan to appeal the judge’s decision, with attorney Patrick Bomberg calling the suicide a “calculated act.”
The former tight end left his fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez, a note that included the phrase “you’re rich,” said Quinn, who believes Hernandez killed himself in order to protect his assets for his family, including his four-year-old daughter.
“It is fair to conclude based on what was presented that it was a knowing decision that he had thought about and acted upon,” Quinn told media outside the courtroom.
Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward, has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Hernandez.
“In our book, he’s guilty and he’s going to always be guilty,” Ward said Tuesday following the judge’s ruling, according to Reuters.
“No one wins today. But I won because I have God on my side and with God all things are possible,” she added.
Along with writing a bible verse from John 3:16 on his forehead in red pen, Hernandez marked the page with the same verse in his bible in blood and wrote it on his cell wall before hanging himself last month.
He also cut his right middle finger and drew circular marks in blood on each of his feet, consistent with images of the feet of Jesus Christ after he was hung from the cross, according to Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel.