Michael Skakel, the 56-year-old nephew of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, could be headed back to prison after a Connecticut Supreme Court ruling released December 30, 2016. As CNN reported, Skakel had been in prison from 2002 through 2013 for the 1975 killing of Martha Moxley, his 15-year-old neighbor. The recent court decision reinstated his murder conviction, adding another chapter to a strange saga that’s stretched over several decades.
The Moxley Murder: On October 31, 1975, the beaten body of Martha Moxley was discovered under a tree in her family’s yard in an upscale Connecticut neighborhood. She was last seen the night before with Thomas Skakel, Michael’s brother, but both brothers claimed alibis for the time period during which Moxley was killed. The family hired attorneys once the murder weapon, a golf club, was traced to the Skakel home. The lawyers’ efforts managed to stymie investigators and neither boy was arrested for the crime. Despite accusations and rumors that flew about during the months that followed, officials ran out of leads.
Case Goes Cold: The Moxley murder became a cold case over time, until another Kennedy – William Kennedy Smith – was accused and tried for rape in 1991. A rumor surfaced during the trial that Smith had been involved with the Moxley murder; though it proved to be false, authorities opened a new investigation into the 1975 killing. A private detective agency hired by the Skakel family leaked a report to the media, indicating that Thomas and Michael had altered their stories and alibis in the years that followed.
Skakel’s Conviction, Decades Later: Authorities convened a grand jury to review the Moxley case and, after an 18-month investigation, prosecutors decided to charge Michael Skakel in January 2000. He was found guilty of the murder in 2002, and was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
Conviction Overturned, Then Reinstated: Skakel continued to maintain his innocence and filed a series of appeals, finally succeeding in 2013. His legal team presented evidence, including Skakel’s own testimony, that his counsel at the original trial was incompetent. They alleged that the lawyer was more focused on his new-found celebrity in representing a Kennedy relative, rather than on defending his client. The appellate court agreed with the claim of inadequate representation, and Skakel was a free man. However, the Connecticut high court found that his trial counsel was competent and overturned that ruling. The result is that Skakel’s conviction will be reinstated.
San Diego Criminal Defense
The Skakel case is proof that criminal law and procedural rules are extremely complex, and can be overwhelming if you try to represent yourself. To avoid harsh jail terms, hefty fines, and even more severe cases in San DIego, you need an attorney willing to fight for your rights in court. A lawyer with an extensive background and years of experience in criminal defense will protect your rights and seek the best possible outcome. For more information on defending murder charges or any other type of crime, please contact a qualified criminal attorney in San Diego to schedule a consultation with an attorney.
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