Connecticut court orders new murder trial for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, report says
The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled for a new trial to be held for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, who was convicted for the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley, according to The Associated Press.
Friday’s 4-3 decision by the court vacated Skakel’s earlier conviction and ruled that Michael Sherman, his trial attorney, did not show the court evidence of a possible alibi.
As a result of the decision, the court’s previous 2016 ruling, which reinstated Skakel’s conviction following a lower court’s order for a new trial, was overturned.
Skakel was accused of bludgeoning Martha Moxley to death in 1975 in Greenwich, Conn., while the pair were in their teens. He was found guilty of the murder in 2002.
After being handed a 20-year-to-life prison term, he was released on bail following a lower court’s 2013 decision to overturn his conviction.
Skakel is the nephew of Ethel Kennedy, who was married to Robert F. Kennedy.
The well-known name and his wealthy family have generated international attention to the case, as well as a number of theories about who killed Moxley and the brutal way in which she died. Several others, including Skakel’s brother, Tommy, were mentioned as potential suspects.
Justice Richard Palmer, who wrote for the majority on Friday’s decision, said Skakel had been biased against due to the fact that his attorney hadn’t gotten alibi testimony from a witness, Denis Ossorio.
“Without Ossorio’s testimony, the state was able to attack the petitioner’s (Skakel’s) abili – a complete alibi for the time period during which it is highly likely that the victim was murdered – as part of a Skakel family conspiracy to cover up the petitioner’s involvement in the victim’s murder,” Palmer wrote.
The court was previously asked by Hubert Santos, an appellate lawyer representing Skakel, to re-examine its ruling reinstating the conviction.
Santos maintained that Sherman, Skakel’s previous lawyer, did not make good choices in the case, claiming that he did not focus on Skakel’s brother as a possible suspect and did not attempt to get in touch with an alibi witness. He also claimed that his client was not near the crime scene when Moxley was killed.
Santos also argued that there was no physical evidence or eyewitnesses connecting Skakel to Moxley’s murder.
Sherman has defended his work and state prosecutors have argued that he did an adequate job.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.