Judge clears way for Michael Skakel to be released on bail - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Judge clears way for Michael Skakel to be released on bail

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VERNON, CT (WFSB) -

Kennedy cousin and convicted killer Michael Skakel could be one step closer to getting out of jail.

Two weeks ago judge Thomas Bishop ruled Skakel's attorney did not adequately represent him during his 2002 conviction for murder of Martha Moxley. About 40 years ago, Moxley was found beaten to death with a golf club.

Skakel has long maintained he did not kill his neighbor when they were 15-years-old. He and new attorney Hubert J. Santos were in Vernon Rockville Superior Court Wednesday to argue for the chance for the Kennedy cousin to get out of prison.

"This defendant has a right to walk out of this courthouse today," Santos said.

Santos said Skakel should have been released 15 days ago when the judge granted a re-trial. Prosecutor Susan Gill said there's an automatic stay while they appeal that re-trial.

"I do not feel it is consistent with legislature to let him out convicted of murder," Gill said.

Bishop ruled that he does not have the authority to release Skakel, but lifted the stay on the case. That decision is on hold for 10 days pending review, but if it's upheld, another court could give Skakel the chance to get out of jail.

"If this court order will be in place, setting aside the conviction and ordering a new trial. in that case the case will be returned to the trial docket. the petitioner will then be eligible for bail as with any other defendant with similar case pending on that docket," Bishop said.

Eyewitness News spoke to a legal expert Wednesday about what comes next if it goes through.

"This judge has ruled that Mr Skakel is entitled to a new trial. Wether the appellate courts agree or not is yet to be seen. what happens is the appeals court often find a reason not to sustain it. So I think we're still quite a ways a way from seeing Mr. Skakel actually released," said Georgetti..

Bishop did say that making a decision in the public's best interest doesn't always mean making the popular decision. He also took care to note how difficult this must be for Moxley's family.

Moxley's mother and brother have been at Vernon Rockville Superior Court for many court cases, but were not present at court on Wednesday.

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