A nephew of Sen. Robert Kennedy who was convicted of the scandalous murder of a 15-year-old girl in 1975 and later was the subject of a made-for-TV movie and three books has won a new trial.
Connecticut’s highest court has ordered a new trial for Michael Skakel, who was convicted of the murder of Greenwich, Conn. neighbor Martha Moxley in a case that dominated international headlines in that era. The 4-3 decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court vacated Skakel’s earlier conviction.
Skakel was 15 at the time of the murder and the nephew of Ethel Kennedy, who was married to Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
In a somewhat tangled case, Michael Skakel was accused of the bludgeoning death of his neighbor, Moxley. He claimed he was miles from the scene of the murder. In 1993, author Dominick Dunne published A Season in Purgatory, a fictional story that was liberally borrowed from the Moxley case. This was followed by the 1998 Mark Fuhrman book Murder in Greenwich, which named Michael Skakel as the murderer and pointed out mistakes the police had made in their investigation.
The resulting uproar caused a Connecticut grand jury to review the evidence. Skakel was then charged with the murder and arrested on Jan. 9, 2000.
Cousin Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. later wrote a book, Framed, about his belief that his cousin was wrongfully convicted and spent 11 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. The book was optioned by FX Productions to be developed as a multi-part TV series that never happened.
A 2002 USA Network movie that adapted Fuhrman’s book, Murder In Greenwich, also explored the case. The film featured an investigation of the case by Fuhrman, the former LA detective involved in the OJ Simpson murder trial in the 1990s. The Skakel film purported to discover a net of power and money to cover-up the Moxley murder.
Skakel released on $1.2 million bail in 2013 when a Connecticut judge ruled he had ineffective counsel at his trial. However, in 2016, an appellate court ruled 4-3 to reinstate his conviction. That stood until today.