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Kennedy cousin gets new trial in 1975 slaying

Key events in the case against Michael Skakel

A timeline of key developments in the Connecticut murder case against Michael Skakel, the nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy:

— Oct. 30, 1975: Greenwich teenager Martha Moxley is beaten to death with a golf club, later traced to a set owned by Michael Skakel's late mother. Moxley's battered body is found Oct. 31 under a tree on her family's estate. The case is unsolved for 25 years and is the subject of several books.

— June 17, 1998: Prosecutors announce that a one-judge grand jury has been appointed to investigate the murder.

— Jan. 18, 2000: Arrest warrant issued.

— Jan. 19, 2000: Skakel surrenders to police. He is charged as a juvenile because of his age — 15 — at the time of the murder.

— March 14, 2000: Skakel is arraigned. He approaches the victim's mother in court and tells her: “You've got the wrong guy.”

— April 19, 2001: Gregory Coleman, who attended a substance abuse treatment center with Skakel in the 1970s, admits being high on heroin when he testified before the grand jury but stands by his testimony that Skakel said he would get away with murder because “I'm a Kennedy.”

— June 7, 2002: Skakel is convicted by a panel of 12 jurors in Norwalk Superior Court. Two months later, he is sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

— Jan. 14, 2004: Connecticut Supreme Court hears arguments to appeal the verdict. The appeal contends the statute of limitations applies and prosecutors failed to turn over crucial evidence. The appeal was denied in January 2006.

— Aug. 26, 2004: Skakel seeks new trial based on a claim by Gitano “Tony” Bryant that implicates two men in the murder.

— Nov. 13, 2006: Skakel loses longshot effort to win reversal of his murder conviction when the U.S. Supreme Court declines to take his case.

— April 12, 2010: Connecticut Supreme Court rejects Skakel's bid for a new trial, ruling a claim implicating two other men was not credible.

— Sept. 27, 2010: Skakel files a new appeal of his murder conviction, this time arguing his high-profile trial attorney Michael Sherman was incompetent.

— Oct. 24, 2012: A state parole board denies his bid for freedom, telling him he could be considered for release again in five years.

— April 25, 2013: Skakel, who did not testify at his trial, takes the stand in support of his appeal to argue Sherman did a poor job. He said Sherman took photos of the judge and jury with a pen camera and had him sign an autograph. “I was flabbergasted at the nonchalant attitude,” Skakel said.

— Oct. 23, 2103: A Connecticut judge grants a new trial for Skakel, ruling his attorney failed to adequately represent him when he was convicted in 2002.

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By The Associated Press
Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:36 p.m.
 

HARTFORD — Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel was granted a new trial on Wednesday by a Connecticut judge who ruled his attorney failed to adequately represent him when he was convicted in 2002 of killing his neighbor in 1975.

The ruling by Judge Thomas Bishop marked a dramatic reversal after years of unsuccessful appeals by Skakel, the 53-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy. Skakel is serving 20 years to life.

Bridgeport State's Attorney John Smriga said prosecutors will appeal the decision.

Skakel's current attorney, Hubert Santos, said he expects to file a motion for bail on Thursday. If a judge approves it, Skakel could then post bond and be released from prison.

“We're very, very thrilled,” Santos said. “I always felt that Michael was innocent.”

Skakel argued his trial attorney, Michael Sherman, was negligent in defending him when he was convicted in the golf club bludgeoning of Martha Moxley when they were 15 in wealthy Greenwich.

Prosecutors contended Sherman's efforts far exceeded standards and that the verdict was based on compelling evidence against Skakel.

John Moxley, the victim's brother, said the ruling took him and his family by surprise and they hope the state wins an appeal.

“Having been in the courtroom during the trial, there were a lot of things that Mickey Sherman did very cleverly,” Moxley said about Skakel's trial lawyer. “But the evidence was against him. And when the evidence is against you, there's almost nothing you can do.”

In his ruling, the judge wrote that defense in such a case requires attention to detail, an energetic investigation and a coherent plan of defense.

“Trial counsel's failures in each of these areas of representation were significant and, ultimately, fatal to a constitutionally adequate defense,” Bishop wrote.

 

 
 


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