Kennedy Cousin Back in Court Over 1975 Murder

Lawyer argues Michael Skakel didn't get a 'fair shake'
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2016 5:03 AM CST
Kennedy Cousin Back in Court Over 1975 Murder
Michael Skakel leaves the state Supreme Court after his hearing on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

More than 40 years ago, 15-year-old Martha Moxley was found beaten to death near her home in the exclusive community of Belle Haven in Greenwich, Conn. On Wednesday, the lawyer for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, who was convicted in 2002 of murdering her, told a panel of six Connecticut Supreme Court justices that his client "did not get a fair shake," the New York Times reports. The justices must decide whether Skakel, 55, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, was denied his right to a fair trial. "The weight of the evidence is that Tommy Skakel killed Martha Moxley," attorney Hubert Santos told the court, referring to Michael Skakel's older brother, who had been a prime suspect in the 1975 murder. It's the third time the Supreme Court has heard arguments in the case, the Hartford Courant reports.

Santos contends that Skakel's previous lawyer failed to provide an adequate defense. In 2013, he convinced a lower court justice that Skakel likely would have been acquitted if not for tactical errors by Michael Sherman (who was later sent to prison for dodging federal taxes). Since then, Skakel has been free on $1.2 million bail, per the AP. On Wednesday, prosecutor Susann Gill argued that Skakel had received a "well-planned, well-thought-out defense," which included four lawyers and several investigators. “This was far from a slipshod defense,” she said. Moxley's mother, Dorthy, who was in court, says she is convinced Michael Skakel killed her daughter. "I'm sure Michael is the young man who swung the golf club," she told reporters. "There is absolutely no doubt in my mind about that," adding, "Michael got a fair trial." If the justices agree with Santos, prosecutors must decide whether to retry Skakel, per the Courant. If they rule for the prosecution, he will likely go back to prison. (More Michael Skakel stories.)

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