Skakel wins new trial in 1975 killing - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Skakel wins new trial in 1975 killing


After years of unsuccessful appeals, convicted killer and Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel is getting a second chance at freedom.

A judge issued a retrial, saying Skakel's original attorney did a bad job representing him during his 2002 trial.

His current attorney, Hubie Santos, said he will file a motion for bail on Thursday, which means if a judge approves the request, he will be released from prison and will be a free man while he awaits a new trial.

The family of Martha Moxley said they have no doubts as to who killed the Greenwich teenager in 1975.

But on Wednesday, Judge Thomas Bishop ruled that attorney Mickey Sherman failed to adequately represent Skakel and that he did not get a fair trial.

According to  Bishop, Sherman was lacking and deficient in several key issues from jury selection to closing arguments.

In 2002, a jury convicted Skakel for killing Moxley with a golf club. In his ruling, Bishop stated the defense could have focused more on Skakel's brother Thomas, who was an early suspect and was the last person to see her alive.

The judge also said that Sherman failed to represent Skakel properly, stating that the defense failed in three key areas, attention to detail, an energetic investigation and a coherent plan of defense.

In April, Skakel, who didn't testify in his first trial, took the stand at his appeal, arguing Sherman did a poor job, saying he was overconfident, nonchalant and was basking in the limelight.

While the judge said a new trial will come with emotional and financial cost, he said he believes Skakel deserves another shot to prove his innocence.

For his appeals, Skakel hired Santos, who on Thursday asked for a bond of no more than $500,000. Santos said, "Skakel is not a flight risk" and "nor is his continued incarceration necessary to protect the safety of the public."

Skakel was denied parole last year.

Prosecutors said they will appeal Wednesday's ruling for a new trial and the request for bond. 

"The state's case relied on Michael Skakel's uncontested connection to the murder weapon, strong evidence of motive, substantial evidence of consciousness of guilt, nearly a dozen incriminating admissions and three unequivocal confessions," said John C. Smriga, who is the state's attorney for the Judicial District of Fairfield, in a statement.

Smirga stated that Sherman "used his judgment" "to make strategic decisions." He added that Sherman, who is an attorney with more than 30 years of experience, prosecuted two pre-trial appeals. 

Even with another trial, prosecutors could have a difficult time. There were no witnesses and very little evidence for a crime that happened decades ago.

The Kennedy family said they are happy with the recent developments in the Skakel case.

"My family prays every night for Michael Skakel and has done so for 12 years," Robert Kennedy Jr. told Anderson Cooper Wednesday night.

Motions are expected to filed early next week and then there will be a bond hearing.

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