Skakel Legal Battle Far From Over

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

   |0 Comments

No longer in handcuffs or leg shackles, Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel walked out of court on Thursday, Nov. 21 into the autumn chill a free man for the first time in more than a decade, released on bail while prosecutors appeal a ruling granting him a new trial in the 1975 slaying of neighbor Martha Moxley.

Skakel, the 53-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel, touched his hand to his chest and looked back at supporters in the courtroom, his brothers among them, as the judge set bail at $1.2 million. He had been in prison more than 11 years on a sentence of 20 years to life but walked out of Stamford Superior Court in a suit and tie after posting cash bond in the form of bank checks.

But the long-running legal battle is far from over. Prosecutors filed an appeal over the ruling granting a new trial, vowed for the first time to retry Skakel if they lose the appeal and clashed again with Skakel's attorney over the strength of their evidence.

In the meantime, Skakel was ordered as conditions of bail to reside in Connecticut -- his lawyer did not say where he will live -- and wear a GPS tracking device.

"He's one of the most recognized faces of America, so he's not going anywhere," defense attorney Hubert Santos said. Santos said his client was "very happy" about the outcome of the hearing. Skakel did not speak to reporters.

Skakel's ongoing effort to be freed got a boost last month when a judge ruled that his trial attorney, Michael Sherman, failed to adequately represent Skakel in 2002 when he was convicted in Moxley's bludgeoning with a golf club in wealthy Greenwich when they were both 15. Judge Thomas Bishop said Sherman failed to locate a witness who backed up Skakel's alibi that he was at his cousin's house the night of the murder and failed to find a man who challenged a star witness's claim that Skakel confessed.

"This is the first step in correcting a terrible wrong," the Skakel family said in a statement. "We look forward to Michael being vindicated and justice finally being served."

Outside court, Moxley's brother John and mother, Dorthy, said they disagreed with the bail decision, continue to believe Skakel killed Martha and are confident he would be convicted again at a new trial.

"I'm disappointed. ... I guess we knew that the day would come," Dorthy Moxley said. "I wasn't completely destroyed, but I wish it didn't happen."

Added John Moxley, "We have nothing to say to Michael."

What's being said

Comments are not moderated. To report offensive comments, click here.

Preparing comment abuse report for Article# 1202629395885

Thank you!

This article's comments will be reviewed.