Kennedy Relative Skakel Wins New Trial in 1975 Killing

Now 52, he was convicted of murdering a 15-year-old girl

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Oct 23, 2013 5:36 PM CDT

(Newser) – A judge today granted a new trial for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, ruling his attorney failed to adequately represent him when he was convicted in 2002 of killing his teenage neighbor in 1975 with a golf club. The ruling marked a dramatic reversal after years of unsuccessful appeals by Skakel, the 52-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy. Skakel is serving 20 years to life. Skakel's current attorney, Hubert Santos, said he expects to file a motion for bail tomorrow. If a judge approves it, Skakel could then post bond and be released from prison.

"We're very, very thrilled," Santos said. Skakel argued his trial attorney, Michael Sherman, was negligent in defending him when he was convicted in the bludgeoning of Martha Moxley when they were 15. Prosecutor Susann Gill said the state's case included three confessions and nearly a dozen incriminating statements by Skakel over the years. She also said there was strong evidence of motive. "His drug-addled mental state, coupled with the infuriating knowledge that his hated brother Tommy had a sexual liaison with Martha, and the fact that Martha spurned his advances, triggered the rage which led him to beat her to death with a golf club," Gill wrote.

Michael Skakel leaves a courtroom in this file photo.
Michael Skakel leaves a courtroom in this file photo.   (Jason Rearick)
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