HARTFORD, Conn. — With a new trial ordered for Michael Skakel, a defense lawyer for the Kennedy cousin serving time in the 1975 slaying of a neighbor said he will seek his release from prison on bond.
Skakel’s conviction was set aside Wednesday by a Connecticut judge, Thomas Bishop, who ruled that Skakel’s trial attorney failed to adequately represent him when he was found guilty in 2002. Bridgeport State’s Attorney John Smriga said prosecutors will appeal the decision.
Skakel’s current attorney, Hubert Santos, said he expects to file a motion for bail on Thursday. If a judge approves it, Skakel could then post bond and be released from prison.
“We’re very, very thrilled,” Santos said. “I always felt that Michael was innocent.”
Skakel argued that his trial attorney, Michael Sherman, was negligent in defending him when he was convicted in the golf club bludgeoning of Martha Moxley when they were 15 in wealthy Greenwich.
Prosecutors contended Sherman’s efforts far exceeded standards and that the verdict was based on compelling evidence against Skakel.
John Moxley, the victim’s brother, said the ruling took him and his family by surprise and they hope the state wins an appeal.
“Having been in the courtroom during the trial, there were a lot of things that Mickey Sherman did very cleverly,” Moxley said. “But the evidence was against him. And when the evidence is against you, there’s almost nothing you can do.”
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a cousin of Skakel’s who has long insisted Skakel did not commit the crime, said on NBC’s “Today” show on Thursday that the ruling was correct.
“His one crime was that he had a very, very poor representation,” he said. “If he gets another trial, he’s got good lawyers now.”