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Kennedy clan member's trial lawyer defends methods

ROCKVILLE, Conn., April 16 (UPI) -- The trial lawyer for Michael Skakel, a Kennedy clan member challenging his murder conviction, defended his defense of Skakel in a Connecticut court Tuesday.

Skakel's habeus corpus petition, often known as a writ of last resort, contends he has been unlawfully imprisoned the past 10 years because of ineffectual counsel at his trial. Skakel, now 52 and the nephew of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, was convicted in the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley, then 15.

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His current attorneys contend in the petition Skakel's defense lawyer, Mickey Sherman, had "numerous deficiencies" at trial, the Hartford, Conn., Courant reported Tuesday. They charge Sherman failed to obtain discovery of prosecutors' evidence, did not challenge what they claim were coerced confessions and did not advise Skakel of his rights.

In court Tuesday, Sherman conceded some evidence, including a police sketch and investigators' profile reports of other suspects, "could have been helpful," but he defended his decision to avoid the use of expert witnesses at Skakel's trial.

"I didn't want to turn it into a rich man's justice perception, that we could just buy experts," Sherman said.

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