Kennedy nephew to get new trial over teen Martha Moxley's murder

Top News: Connecticut courtroom orders new homicide trial for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, report says

Lawyers for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel called a Connecticut Supreme Court decision Friday overturning his conviction in the bludgeoning death of 15-year-old neighbor Martha Moxley long-overdue vindication.

This time - with a new justice on the bench - the court found Skakel's trial attorney failed to investigate a key alibi defense which amounted to a "constitutionally inexcusable" error that "undermines confidence in the reliability" of what was already a "far from overwhelming" conviction.

Moxley was pummeled with a golf club and stabbed repeatedly with its broken shaft in the yard of her family's Greenwich home, after spending time at the neighboring Skakel estate on the evening of October 30, 1975. Skakel was tried and convicted in 2002.

It wasn't immediately clear if prosecutors will subject Skakel to a new trial.

A spokesman for the CT chief state's attorney's office, which argued against Skakel's appeal in court, said the office was reviewing the decision. In 2013, he was released on a $1.2 million bail when a judge granted him a new trial based on claims that he had been inadequately represented.

The nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy, Skakel had his innocence defended by another scion of the family. The cornerstone of the state's case consisted of two witnesses who said Skakel had confessed to the murder in the late 1970s when they were in a drug and alcohol rehab facility.

Skakel's current attorney, Hubert J. Santos, said during a brief phone interview that his client was "elated" with Friday's ruling. Former justice Peter T. Zarella, who wrote the majority opinion in 2016, retired at the end of that year, according to The Hartford Courant.

The high court's reversal of a previous ruling is highly unusual, legal observers said.

On Friday, the majority opinion said that Skakel had been prejudiced in the case because of Sherman's failure to obtain alibi testimony from a witness, Denis Ossorio.

"Without Ossorio's testimony, the state was able to attack the petitioner's (Skakel's) abili - a complete alibi for the time period during which it is highly likely that the victim was murdered - as part of a Skakel family conspiracy to cover up the petitioner's involvement in the victim's murder", Palmer wrote.

John Moxley says that hours before the ruling was issued, he had been talking with his elderly mother about how the case had been going on for half her life. "I suspect the State is working overtime to look for new forensic evidence in the Skakel matter", he concluded. My mom is getting older.

Skakel has always said he was innocent. "I just don't think she has the strength to go on with this", he said.

'He'll be in jail for the rest of his life, ' Moxley said. "He may not be physically in jail".

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