Kennedy Cousin, Now Exonerated, Is Suing

Michael Skakel wants lead investigator, Connecticut town of Greenwich to pay
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 3, 2024 10:25 AM CST
Kennedy Cousin, Now Exonerated, Is Suing
Michael Skakel enters the state Supreme Court in Hartford, Connecticut, in 2016.   (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, whose conviction in the 1970s murder of a Connecticut teen was overturned, is suing the lead police investigator and the town of Greenwich for alleged malicious prosecution, civil rights violations, and other claimed wrongdoing. Skakel, 63, a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy, was found guilty in 2002 of the 1975 bludgeoning death of Martha Moxley, who lived across the street from the Skakel family in Greenwich and whose body was found in her family's backyard. Both Skakel and Moxley were 15 at the time of her death. The Connecticut Supreme Court overturned Skakel's conviction in 2018, after he'd served more than 11 years in prison, saying his lawyer failed to present evidence of an alibi. A state prosecutor announced in 2020 that Skakel wouldn't be put on trial again and the murder charge was dropped.

As the AP reports, the new lawsuit alleges the investigator, Frank Garr, was intent on getting Skakel convicted and withheld key evidence about other potential suspects from Skakel's trial defense. The defendants in the lawsuit "knew that there were other more likely suspects and that there was no probable cause to arrest and/or maintain a prosecution against the Plaintiff (Skakel), but continued to do so intentionally and maliciously, in order to convict a 'Kennedy Cousin,'" the suit alleges. Skakel's attorney, Stephan Seeger, called the lawsuit a civil rights action against Garr and the town. "He spent 11 and a half years in jail for a crime he didn't commit and was put through every thinkable proceeding until the case was finally dismissed," Seeger said.

The lawsuit, filed in state court in Stamford in November, seeks unspecified damages over $15,000. The case drew international attention because of the Kennedy name, Skakel's rich family, numerous theories about who killed Moxley, and the brutal way in which she died. Skakel's cousin, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., now a presidential candidate, was one of his staunchest defenders and wrote a book saying Skakel was framed. Skakel was first arrested in 2000, after new books about the Moxley case reignited the investigation. Skakel suffered violations of his constitutional rights, loss of liberty from his time in prison, humiliation, embarrassment, "severe emotional distress, terror, and fear," financial loss and harm, and "destruction of reputation and family relationships," the lawsuit says.

story continues below

The lawsuit claims Greenwich police, prosecutors, and Garr withheld crucial information beneficial to Skakel from his defense. The information, the suit says, included sketches of a potential suspect who didn't resemble Skakel, psychological reports on other suspects, and statements from witnesses who said two other men were in Moxley's neighborhood on the night of her killing, including one who made incriminating comments. The lawsuit also alleges Garr had "deep antipathy" toward Skakel and his family, was looking to profit from collaborating on a book about Skakel killing Moxley, and threatened witnesses so they would testify against Skakel. Lawyers for Garr and Greenwich haven't yet filed their responses to the suit. Moxley's family has maintained their belief that Skakel was the killer.

(More Michael Skakel stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.