VERNON, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Michael Skakel will remain in jail, but has been granted the possibility of getting out on bail while he awaits a second trial in the 1975 murder of neighbor Martha Moxley, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.
Judge Thomas Bishop issued the ruling Wednesday in Rockville Superior Court and is sending the case back to Stamford Court where Skakel was convicted in 2002 of bludgeoning Moxley with a golf club when they were 15-year-old neighbors in Greenwich.
The case was overturned two weeks ago, but an automatic stay was put into effect because it is a murder case and that is Connecticut law, Young reported.
Bishop ordered the new trial for Skakel last month, saying his trial attorney, Michael Sherman, failed to adequately represent him in 2002 when he was found guilty of murder.
“If the defendant received an unconstitutional trial then he should not spend one more day in jail,” said Skakel’s attorney Hubert Santos.
Wednesday’s order lifts that stay and gives the state 10 days to either get that case before the Stamford Court and have bail set, or to have the ruling today reversed, Young reported.
In issuing the ruling, Bishop said he was mindful of how difficult this is for the family of Moxley, but said he did not believe public interest was synonymous with popularity, and called the conviction of Skakel a “constitutionally flawed judgment,”Young reported.
Skakel, the 53-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel Kennedy, is serving 20 years to life in prison.
He could be granted bail by Nov. 16 pending the retrial, Young reported. He has waived his right to a speedy trial, which means that the state now has the right to put the trial on hold after they set his bail while they appeal the overturning of the conviction, Young reported.
“I do believe Michael Skakel killed my daughter,” Moxley’s mother, Dorothy Moxley, said. “I don’t believe there’s any doubt in that. He convicted himself practically.”
Legal experts have said the chance of an acquittal increases as time goes on. For his part, Skakel maintains his innocence, saying he couldn’t admit to the crime, even if it helped make parole.
The state of Connecticut insists the evidence of guilt is strong. “I’ve rarely seen one based on three full confessions with substantial evidence of motive and substantial evidence of guilt because you have the defendant changing his story,” said Susan Gill, Conn. Assistant State’s Attorney.
Skakel closed his eyes and dropped his head when it became apparent he wouldn’t be getting bail right away, Young reported.
The ruling is a disappointment for both sides. The state wants to concentrate on appealing the decision, not re-trying the case, and the defense wanted Skakel to walk out of court immediately, Young reported.
His attorney had a bail bondsman and checkbook on standby, while Skakel’s younger brother Stephen was seen carrying what appeared to be a change of clothes, Young reported.
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