Facts about Michael Skakel

Michael Skakel is 63 years old
Best known as: The Kennedy relative convicted of killing Martha Moxley


Michael Skakel Biography

Michael Skakel was tried and convicted in 2002 of a murder that occurred 27 years earlier: the 1975 killing of Martha Moxley. But after years of legal wrangling, that conviction was vacated by the Connecticut Supreme Court in 2018.

Martha Moxley was a 15-year-old resident of Greenwich, Connecticut who was bludgeoned with a golf club and left dead in her family’s yard on the night of October 30, 1975. The crime went unsolved for more than two decades, though Michael Skakel and his brother Tommy Skakel were among the suspects; they lived nearby and the golf club had come from the Skakel family garage.

Michael Skakel is a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert F. Kennedy, adding a sensational note to the case. A 1998 book by Mark Fuhrman titled A Murder in Greenwich named Michael Skakel as the prime suspect and helped renew interest in the case. Skakel was arrested in 2000; his arrest was followed by nearly two years of legal arguments, mainly over whether Skakel should be tried as an adult or a juvenile (since he was 15 when the murder was committed). Judge Maureen Dennis ruled that Skakel should be tried in adult court, and in 2001 the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld her ruling.

Michael Skakel’s trial for the murder of Moxley began in May of 2002, and on June 7, 2002 the jury returned a verdict of guilty. Michael Skakel was sentenced to from 20 years to life in prison. His appeal for a new trial was denied in 2009, and an appeal for a reduction of his sentence was denied in 2012. But in 2013 Skakel had success: he was freed from prison and granted a new trial after a Connecticut judge ruled that his original lawyer had represented him poorly.

On December 30th of 2016, the Connecticut Supreme Court reinstated Skakel’s conviction by a 4-3 ruling, saying that he had received valid representation and the original ruling was thus valid. But less than two years later, the court reversed itself on another 4-3 vote, this time ruling that Skakel’s trial lawyer had performed so poorly that Skakel did not get a fair trial.

Extra credit

Mark Fuhrman, formerly a Los Angeles policeman, was a famous figure in the murder trial of O.J. Simpson.


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