The Connecticut Supreme Court has vacated Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel's murder conviction and ordered a new trial in connection with a 1975 killing in wealthy Greenwich.
The court issued a 4-3 ruling Friday that Skakel's trial attorney, Michael Sherman, failed to present evidence of an alibi. The decision reversed the court's previous ruling that reinstated Skakel's conviction after a lower court had ordered a new trial.
Skakel is a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy. He was convicted of murder in 2002 in the bludgeoning death of Martha Moxley in their wealthy Greenwich neighborhood in 1975, when they were teenagers.
He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison, but another judge granted him a new trial in 2013, citing mistakes by his trial lawyer.
New Haven Criminal Defense Attorney John Williams of John R. Williams & Associates said it's hard to know if prosecutors will continue to pursue the case.
"He did serve a pretty fair amount in prison before this habeas corpus petition was released. He did a lot of time and if he’s innocent, good lord," Williams said. "I think that a reasonable prosecutor could say, okay … it’s time to move on to other things, we have limited judicial resources. But who knows what they’re going to do. It would be an interesting trial if it happens though," he added.
Moxley's mother Dorthy Moxley spoke with NBC Connecticut over the phone Friday afternoon.
“I was very surprised and I’m very disappointed," she said. “I have no doubt in my mind that Michael Skakel is the person who murdered my daughter.”
Dorthy said she will continue fighting for justice for Martha, and thanked the Connecticut judicial system for the support over the years.
Of Skakel, she said thinks he should "just take his punishment."
"People have to be responsible for their actions. You can’t do things and expect you can just get away with it," Dorthy said.
Skakel's attorney Hubert Santos released a statement to NBC Connecticut that reads, in part:
“Today’s ruling makes clear that Michael Skakel spent 11-and-a-half years unjustly imprisoned in violation of the Constitution. To be absolutely clear: Michael Skakel is innocent of this crime. We are grateful to Judge Bishop and the Connecticut Supreme Court for correcting this miscarriage of justice."