The Kennedys, undoubtedly among America’s most iconic political families, are finding themselves under the spotlight once again – though not for the most glamorous reasons.
On October 23rd, all eyes were back on Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, when his murder conviction was overturned by Connecticut judge Thomas Bishop – granting Michael Skakel a new trial that has yet to be scheduled. Skakel was convicted in 2002 for the murder of Martha Moxley in 1975, and was sentenced to 20 years to life. According to judge Bishop’s ruling, Skakel, now 53 years old, was given an “inadequate” trial in 2002.
Mickey Sherman, the lawyer who defended Michael Skakel, however, said in a statement that he would not alter anything with regard to his representation of Skakel despite his former client’s claim that it was his incompetence that led to Skakel’s conviction.
Skakel’s current defense lawyer, Hubert Santos, announced that he is set on having Skakel soon released from prison on bond. He added that he always believed in Skakel’s innocence, and that the new trial is a chance to finally prove it.
On the other hand, John Smirga, state attorney, said that an appeal will be brought forward by prosecutors after reviewing the decision made by judge Bishop.
Aged 15 years old at the time of the murder, Moxley was reported to have been enjoying Devil’s Night in 1975, pulling pranks – such as throwing eggs and toilet papers – on her neighbors in the exclusive and affluent Greenwich community of Belle Haven.
She was later found to have been repeatedly beaten with a golf club – a 6 iron, to be precise – which was found to belong to the mother of Michael and Tommy, Anne Reynolds, who died from brain cancer two years earlier.
When the murder weapon was traced to the Skakels, the authorities considered Michael and Tommy as initial suspects – although some critics believed that the brothers were given special treatment due to their family’s prominence.
Martha Moxley’s mother, Dorthy Moxley, now 81 years old, is likewise firm in her belief that Skakel did kill her daughter. She said that she is not bothered by the new trial, knowing that he will be – again – found guilty.
The Kennedy Connection
How exactly is Michael Skakel connected to the well-known Kennedy family? He is the son of Rushton Skakel, the patriarch of the Skakel clan which found wealth in the coal industry and was also one of the country’s richest families. Rushton is the brother of Ethel Kennedy, now 85 years old, widow of then US senator and erstwhile presidential aspirant Robert F. Kennedy. Rushton and Ethel hailed from Chicago, where they were raised by a Catholic family.
According to past reports, Robert F. Kennedy himself had called Michael Skakel as a small and sensitive child, referring to Skakel’s small stature. Michael Skakel also worked for Michael Kennedy as international programs director at the Citizens Energy Corporation. Prior to this, Skakel also worked for another Kennedy politician, Edward Moore “Ted” Kennedy as a driver in his campaign for reelection as Massachusetts senator in 1994.
Speaking on behalf of the Kennedy clan, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., has expressed to the public that the family is thrilled by the news, and looks forward to proving Skakel’s innocence, which they have maintained to believe in.