Victim's family weighs next steps in Skakel case

Emmett Rice
May 7, 2018

Lawyers for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel called a Connecticut Supreme Court decision Friday overturning his conviction in the bludgeoning death of 15-year-old neighbor Martha Moxley long-overdue vindication.

Skakel, a nephew of Robert Kennedy's widow Ethel, was convicted of murder in 2002 for the 1975 death of Moxley when both were teenagers.

On Friday, the majority opinion said that Skakel had been prejudiced in the case because of Sherman's failure to obtain alibi testimony from a witness, Denis Ossorio.

Once the evidence is examined anew, prosecutors in Bridgeport will have to weigh the public interest in the case against the costs of a new trial and likelihood of convicting Skakel or another defendant almost 50 years after the killing.

Attempts to reach Sherman were unsuccessful Friday evening.

Fifteen-year-old Moxley was killed - bludgeoned with a golf club belonging to the Skakel family and stabbed in the neck with the broken-off handle - the night before Halloween in 1975 in the driveway of her Greenwich home.

But it would be decades before prosecutors would bring charges in the case that has drawn widespread attention for its links to the Kennedy family.

The prosecution's case was based largely on the testimony of people who said they heard Skakel confess and boast that his famous family connections would prevent him from being brought to justice.

He was arrested and charged with Moxley's murder in 2000.

Though Skakel had been a suspect for years, he did not go to trial until 2002, when he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

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But in 2013, an appellate judge overturned the conviction on the grounds that Skakel received an inadequate defense.

"We were expecting the decision today", Kennedy said.

The Connecticut Supreme Court had previously found that Sherman's performance was not deficient.

The court determined in its newest decision that Skakel's attorney, Michael Sherman, was ineffective.

Here, what changed was the makeup of the state's highest court.

What results from that fresh look could again point the finger at Skakel - whose conviction was overturned in a 4-3 decision - or others in the killing, said CT defense attorney Norm Pattis.

Prosecutors can choose to retry Skakel, according to the decision, but the defense would now have the benefit of that alibi testimony.

Connecticut's Division of Criminal Justice did not immediately respond to an email request for comment. In many states, the motions are highly discouraged, as they suggest that the court, after argument, research, and deliberation, made an incorrect decision.

"I was 43 when she was murdered and I'll be 86 next month", she said.

Travis Andersen of the Globe staff contributed. "It's really unusual when a court reverses itself". Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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