Michael Skakel Was Convicted Of Murder For The 1975 Death Of Martha Moxley

VERNON, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP)A hearing is set for Wednesday to determine whether Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel should be released from prison as he awaits a new murder trial.

Arguments will be heard on whether Judge Thomas Bishop has the authority to release Skakel from prison while he awaits a new trial in the 1975 slaying of neighbor Martha Moxley.

Judge Bishop will hold the hearing Wednesday in Rockville Superior Court.

Bishop last month ordered a new trial for Skakel, ruling his trial attorney, Michael Sherman, failed to adequately represent him in 2002 when he was found guilty of bludgeoning Moxley with a golf club. Skakel and Moxley were 15-year-old neighbors in wealthy Greenwich at the time of her death.

Skakel’s cousin Robert Kennedy Jr., a law professor at Pace University, calls the judge’s decision courageous.

“He’s been on the bench a long time, he’s highly respected and he had the confidence to be able to make a difficult decision,” Kennedy told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau. “He saw that this was a travesty of justice.”

Prosecutors say Bishop doesn’t have the authority to grant bond because of an automatic stay of his ruling while they appeal.

Skakel’s attorney says Bishop has the authority to grant bail.

Skakel has served 11 years of his 20 years to life sentence.

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