A judge ruled Tuesday that Aaron Hernandez's conviction in a 2013 murder can be erased because he died before his appeal was heard.

A legal doctrine that calls for vacating convictions when a defendant dies before an appeal can be heard was binding precedent, Judge E. Susan Garsh said.

Hernandez hanged himself in his prison cell last month while serving a life sentence on a first-degree murder conviction in the death of Odin Lloyd. He died five days after being acquitted in a separate double slaying in 2012.