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Aaron Hernandez still facing 4-5 years for gun conviction

The former New England Patriots TE has a theoretical path to freedom, but it will not be easy.

As lawyer Jose Baez, fresh from winning an acquittal of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez in a double-murder case, now hopes to overturn Hernandez’s prior murder conviction, with the goal of ultimately making Hernandez a free man. A separate aspect of Friday’s outcome complicates that process.

The verdict exonerating Hernandez on murder and witness intimidation charges included a conviction for the unlawful possession of a gun. The presiding judge sentenced Hernandez to four-to-five years in prison, separate and apart from his existing life sentence for killing Odin Lloyd.

So even if Baez can overturn the conviction on appeal and win an acquittal at the end of a second trial, Baez will have to figure out how to circumvent the new conviction.

If Baez somehow erases the Odin Lloyd conviction and secures a “not guilty” verdict the second time around, an argument could be made that he should get credit for the time spent behind bars through the date of an eventual acquittal. That said, if there’s any discretion to be exercised by the judge that makes the final decision -- and if that judge personally believes Hernandez killed one, two, or three people -- the discretion could be exercised in a way that results in Hernandez remaining in prison.