Judge agrees to erase Aaron Hernandez’s conviction in 2013 murder

FILE - In this Friday, April 14, 2017, file photo, Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez turns to look toward his fiancee Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez as he reacts to his double murder acquittal at Suffolk Superior Court in Boston. Hernandez’s family is planning a private funeral for the former NFL star in his hometown in Bristol, Conn. A spokeswoman for the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association said Saturday, April 22, that the service is set for Monday, April 24. The former New England Patriots tight end was found hanged in his cell in a maximum-security prison in Massachusetts early Wednesday, April 19. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, Pool, File)

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) – A Massachusetts judge has agreed to erase Aaron Hernandez’s conviction in a 2013 murder because he died before his appeal could be heard.

Judge Susan Garsh ruled Tuesday that a legal doctrine that calls for vacating convictions when a defendant dies before an appeal can be heard was binding precedent. She said she was compelled to follow it.

The former New England Patriots tight end hanged himself in his prison cell last month while serving a life sentence in the killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd.

Prosecutors argued that dismissing his murder conviction would reward Hernandez’s decision to take his own life.