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Back to Jail: Michael Skakel’s murder conviction is reinstated by highest Connecticut court

The Kennedy relative was previously convicted of the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley, when he and the victim were both 15

Michael Skakel will be returning to prison to finish his sentence for the murder of 15-year-old Martha Moxley in 1975. Skakel, who was also 15 at the time of the murder in tony Greenwich, CT, is the nephew of Ethel Kennedy, Robert Kennedy’s widow.

Skakel and his older brother Thomas, who lived next door to Moxley and encountered her on the night she was murdered, had long been eyed with suspicion in her bludgeoning death. But the younger Skakel was not charged until 2002, years after the rape trial of William Kennedy Smith brought renewed interest in the case, and set off a convoluted chain of events (and multiple books) that eventually led to Michael’s indictment — despite widespread belief that Thomas was the culprit. A report compiled by a private investigative team hired by the Skakel family to clear Thomas’s name found more evidence pointing to Michael. That report was never intended to see the light of day, but was leaked to reporters.

Michael Skakel was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison in 2002. But over a decade later, his new legal team was able to convince a Superior Court judge that his attorney at the time did not provide him an adequate defense. Skakel was granted a new trial and released on bail while he awaited.

But his freedom would be short lived. On Friday, a state Supreme Court reversed the 2013 ruling and reinstated Skakel’s murder conviction, in a 4-3 decision. And there’s a possibility of yet another twist in the long, dramatic case: Skakel’s appellate attorney has 20 days to petition the Supreme Court for a reconsideration. By that time, the judge who wrote the majority decision and presumably voted in favor of it, will have retired.

Photo: Greenwich Police Department