Court Reverses Kennedy Relative's Murder Conviction

May 5, 2018
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A Connecticut court has reversed the murder conviction of Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel and ordered a new trial. From member station WSHU, Ebong Udoma reports.

EBONG UDOMA, BYLINE: It took Connecticut prosecutors 27 years to bring charges against Michael Skakel for the murder of Martha Moxley. In 1975, Moxley was found bludgeoned to death under some pine trees near her Greenwich, Conn., home. Moxley, who was 15, lived next door to Skakel, who was also 15. Skakel is the nephew of Ethel Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy's widow.

In 2002, he was convicted of Moxley's murder and given a 20-year-to-life sentence. But in 2013, after serving a decade behind bars, Skakel appealed his case and a judge ordered a new trial. While he was out on bail, the state appealed that decision to the Connecticut Supreme Court, which in 2016 ruled that Skakel's conviction would hold. But on Friday, the same court reversed its decision and has granted Skakel a new trial.

JEFFREY TOOBIN: The effort to free him is a tragedy for Connecticut, and especially for the Moxley family.

UDOMA: That's Jeffrey Toobin, a legal analyst who's been following Skakel's legal battles for decades. Toobin believes that Skakel will never again return to prison.

TOOBIN: It was difficult enough to try him all those years after the crime. To do it all these years later, with witnesses aging and dying and disappearing, I don't think it's at all a foregone conclusion that the state of Connecticut will try him again.

UDOMA: For his part, Michael Skakel's lawyer would not agree to be interviewed, but his office released a statement saying this has been a long road for Michael and that he's grateful to the court for its latest ruling. For NPR News, I'm Ebong Udoma in Connecticut. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.