A bill sponsored by Dorchester state Rep. Evandro Carvalho that would amend state law to prevent the self-inflicted death of a prisoner from vacating that person’s conviction was the subject of an emotional hearing on Beacon Hill this week.
Ursula Ward, the mother of Odin Lloyd, a Dorchester man who was murdered in 2013 by former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez, testified in favor of the Carvalho legislation. According to the State House News Service, the bill “would end the practice known as abatement ab initio — where a conviction can be wiped out if the defendant dies before exhausting the appeals process — in cases when the defendant dies by suicide.”
Last April, Hernandez took his own life inside of a cell at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center where he was serving a life sentence for Lloyd’s murder. Hernandez was acquitted in a second case – the double-murder of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in 2012 just before his suicide. The latter were living in Dorchester at the time of their deaths. They were ambushed after leaving a nightclub in Boston’s Theatre District where they had an encounter with Hernandez and another man, Alexander Bradley, whom Hernandez is also alleged to have shot months later.
His family has since claimed that Hernandez suffered from CTE, a brain disease that afflicts other former football players.They are suing the NFL and the Patriots.
Under existing state law, Hernandez’s conviction for Lloyd’s murder was erased after his suicide, the reprieve an unexpected event that jolted the victim’s family a second time. “I felt as if I was burying my Odin again,” his mother told the state’s Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday.
“When your son is tragically murdered like this, you go through a public humiliation, and then, boom — it disappears,” Carvalho said, according to the State House News Service. “It goes, as the process says, it goes to the beginning, as if it never even happened. I feel as if Odin has not been able to rest in peace, and I have not been able to properly grieve my son,” Ward said.
It is unacceptable that victims or their families should have to go through this sort of pointless torment. We hope that Carvalho’s common-sense measure will see speedy action on Beacon Hill this year.