April 16, 2013

Skakel blames lawyer in latest murder appeal

The Associated Press

VERNON, Conn. — Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel is trying to get his 2002 murder conviction overturned by arguing his trial attorney failed to competently defend him.

A trial starts Tuesday in Rockville Superior Court. Skakel, the 52-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel, is serving 20 years to life in prison for the 1975 golf club bludgeoning of his Greenwich neighbor Martha Moxley when they were 15.

Skakel argues trial attorney Michael Sherman failed to challenge the state's star witness and obtain evidence pointing to other suspects, did a poor job with jury selection and closing arguments and didn't hire enough investigators and expert consultants.

Sherman, who is listed as a potential witness, has said he did all he could to prevent Skakel's conviction.

Prosecutors say many of the issues were rejected in earlier appeals.

Skakel, who lost a bid for parole last year, is hoping to get out of prison through a writ of habeas corpus arguing he was deprived of his constitutional right to effective legal representation when Sherman was his attorney.

Skakel's current attorney, Hubert Santos, argues that his client's conviction is based on two witnesses of dubious credibility who claimed Skakel confessed to the crime. He contends the verdict likely would have been different if Sherman had conducted an appropriate investigation, obtained evidence and challenged inappropriate state evidence.

Prosecutor Susann Gill counters that Skakel's conviction came after more than a dozen witnesses testified that he made incriminating statements, including three direct confessions.

Attorneys for Skakel argue that Sherman failed to challenge the state's star witness by finding witnesses who later rejected his claim that Skakel confessed to the crime.

Skakel has lost two appeals before the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)