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Supreme Court Won't Take Kennedy Clan Murder Case

It leaves in place decision that vacated Michael Skakel's murder conviction
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 7, 2019 11:10 AM CST
In this Feb. 24, 2016, file photo, Michael Skakel leaves the state Supreme Court after his hearing in Hartford, Conn.   (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)
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(Newser) – The Supreme Court announced Monday that it's leaving in place a decision that vacated a murder conviction against Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel. Skakel was convicted in 2002 of the 1975 bludgeoning death of Martha Moxley, who lived across the street from the Skakel family in Greenwich, Conn., and whose body was found in her family's backyard. Both Skakel and Moxley were 15 at the time of her death. The high court's refusal to hear the case means that a 2018 decision by Connecticut's highest court throwing out Skakel's conviction—due to Skakel's attorney's failure to seek out an additional alibi witness—will stand. Though it would be difficult, the state could retry Skakel, who's a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy, reports the AP, though it hasn't said how it will proceed.

Skakel's case has spent nearly two decades winding its way through the court system after he was charged in 2000 with Moxley's killing. After a jury convicted Skakel, he argued that his lead trial lawyer did an inadequate job representing him, including by failing to contact an additional witness who could confirm his alibi for the time of the killing; Skakel says he was watching an episode of the Monty Python TV show at his cousin's house at the time Moxley was beaten with a golf club that belonged to Skakel's mother. Skakel served more than 11 years in prison before being freed on $1.2 million bail in 2013 when a judge overturned his conviction, citing errors by his lead trial lawyer, Michael Sherman, who has defended his work. But Connecticut's Supreme Court reinstated Skakel's conviction in December 2016, ruling 4-3 that Skakel was adequately represented. That decision didn't last.

(Read more Michael Skakel stories.)

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