The night before Halloween in 1975 in Greenwich, Connecticut was just like any other for local teenagers who liked to “prank” houses in their neighborhood by ringing the doorbell and running away or toilet papering houses. Those types of harmless activities were just what 15-year-old Martha Moxley was doing that evening, but how she ended up under a tree in her front yard beaten to death by a golf club is a mystery that has haunted the affluent Belle Haven neighborhood for decades.
Michael Skakel was the nephew of the late Bobby Kennedy’s wife, Ethel. He grew up across the street from Martha Moxley with his rambunctious brothers that were being raised by their father after their mother had died of cancer in 1973. Michael Skakel’s older brother, Tommy, was the last person police believe to have seen Moxley alive that evening. Evidence of Tommy Skakel’s attempts to “go to first and second base” with Moxley were recorded in her diary, though she refused his attempts. Tommy was considered a suspect in the beginning of the investigation, but was soon discarded when police began focusing more on Michael Skakel.
Unusually, the murder weapon used to savagely beat Moxley was found near her body. The golf club’s shaft was reportedly broken due to such heavily infliction, and the type of golf club that was used was traced back to the Skakel home. It would take nearly three decades for Michael Skakel to be tried for the murder of Moxley though he continuously maintained his innocence. In 2002, after weeks of testimony that included the taken-out-of-context statement from Skakel saying that on the evening of the murder, he had reportedly climbed a tree in Moxley’s front yard, trying to look into her window while masturbating. However, in court, Michael Skakel’s recorded statement regarding his masturbating in a tree was manipulated with key words eliminated to appear as a confession to jurors.
Not surprisingly, Michael Skakel was convicted of the murder of Martha Moxley and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
Four years later, the Connecticut Supreme Court chose to uphold his conviction despite his innocence claim.
In 2007, a judge denied Skakel’s request for a new trial after supposed evidence surfaced implicating two teenage boys from the Bronx as the assailants.
As one of the wealthiest families in Belle Haven at the time of the murder, the Skakel family certainly has possessed the funds to continue to press for Michael’s release. In the most recent appeal, Skakel has requested a new trial due to ineffective counsel, which is a violation of his constitutional right to counsel. His lawyer in 2002, Mickey Sherman, evidently failed to challenge a juror who reportedly was “in” with the police. Sherman also never produced anyone who could vouch for Skakel’s alibi at the time of the murder. He didn’t search for witnesses that could have disproved testimony that Skakel had allegedly confessed to the crime shortly after it took place. The request for a new trial was granted and within a few weeks, the judge set Skakel’s bail at $1.2 million and he was soon released with a tracker and a request to stay within the state of Connecticut.
The date of Skakel’s new trial is currently unknown.