Thanks to that principle, Hernandez's conviction in Bristol Superior Court for the murder of Odin Lloyd was erased after the former National Football League star killed himself in prison.
Hernandez was found guilty in 2015 of killing semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd.
The 27-year-old Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell on April 19, 2017, with his death ruled a suicide.
A judge threw out Hernandez's conviction after his death, citing the legal principle that holds that it's unfair to keep a conviction in place before a defendant had a chance to clear their names on appeal.
The court record will note that the conviction was "neither affirmed nor reversed because the defendant died".
During his arguments before the court, Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III said, "The practice of wiping out a jury verdict like it never occurred is not fair or equitable".
Hernandez's death came shortly after his acquittal of the double murder of Daniel de Abreu and Safir Furtado.
Lawyer John Thompson, who said he was representing "the spirit of Aaron Hernandez", said this would be unfair as the defendant - a critical part of any case - is dead, and can not provide context or help to attorneys to properly appeal his case. It ordered that Hernandez's conviction be restored and that the practice be abolished for future cases.
"A defendant, who can cut off his own criminal appeal by suicide and stall civil litigation by a stay of proceedings. has the reins of the entire justice system in his own hands", prosecutors wrote. Some states, like MA, toss the convictions, while others dismiss the defendant's appeal and the conviction stands. Others allow appellate courts to consider a dead defendant's case, prosecutors said.
John Salvi was convicted of murder in 1996 for opening fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Brookline, but his conviction was vacated when he committed suicide in prison before his appeal was heard.