Ethel Kennedy's nephew wins new trial for 1975 killing

Oct. 23, 2013 at 10:40 PM
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HARTFORD, Conn., Oct. 23 (UPI) -- A Connecticut judge Wednesday ordered a new trial for Kennedy relative Michael Skakel, ruling the lawyer who defended him in 2002 was ineffective.

Skakel, 52, nephew of Robert Kennedy's wife, Ethel, was sentenced to 20 years to life for killing Martha Moxley, a neighbor in Greenwich, Conn., in 1975 when they were both 15. Hubert Santos, a member of his current legal team, told the Hartford Courant he plans to ask for Skakel's release on bail pending a new trial.

"It's been 11 years in the making," Santos said of Judge Thomas Bishop's decision.

Bishop, in a 135-page opinion, described Skakel's trial lawyer, Michael "Mickey" Sherman, as "in a myriad of ways ineffective."

"The defense of a serious felony prosecution requires attention to detail, an energetic investigation and a coherent plan of defense capably executed," the judge wrote. "Trial counsel's failures in each of these areas of representation were significant and, ultimately, fatal to a constitutionally adequate defense."

If Bishop's ruling is upheld on appeal, the state will have the choice of releasing or retrying Skakel.

Skakel's trial, more than a quarter century after the crime, would have been sensational without the Kennedy connection. Moxley was killed with a golf club in the wealthy Greenwich neighborhood where her family and the Skakels lived.

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