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Kennedy Cousin Skakel Gets Bail As He Awaits New Murder Trial

Michael Skakel, pictured in October 2012, was granted bail Thursday.
Jessica Hill
MCT /Landov
Michael Skakel, pictured in October 2012, was granted bail Thursday.

Michael Skakel, a cousin of the Kennedy family, was granted bail Thursday and released from prison as he awaits a new trial in the 1975 murder of his neighbor Martha Moxley.

The Associated Press reports:

"Skakel, the 53-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel, touched his hand to his chest and looked back at his supporters in the courtroom, his brothers among them, as the judge set bail at $1.2 million. He has been in prison more than 11 years on a sentence of 20 years to life but was expected to be freed shortly after the hearing in Stamford Superior Court.

"As conditions of the bail, the judge ordered that Skakel live in Connecticut and wear a GPS tracking device. His lawyer said moments after the hearing ended that Skakel was 'very happy' about the outcome."

Last month, Judge Thomas Bishop ruled that Skakel's original trial attorney, Michael Sherman, failed to adequately represent Skakel when he was convicted in Moxley's death.

Prosecutors in Connecticut are appealing that ruling.

Both Skakel and Moxley were 15 at the time of the killing. Moxley's body was discovered under a tree in her family's backyard in Greenwich, Conn. Pieces of a golf club were found next to her. Skakel was a suspect, but did not face trial until 2000. He claimed he was at his cousin's house on the night of the killing, but was convicted in 2002.

Skakel is a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, the wife of Robert F. Kennedy.

Update at 7:50 p.m. ET: Skakel Out Of Jail

The Associated Press reports: "No longer in handcuffs or leg shackles, Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel walked out of court Thursday into the autumn chill a free man for the first time in more than a decade, released on bail while prosecutors appeal a ruling granting him a new trial in the 1975 slaying of neighbor Martha Moxley."

Update at 1:26 p.m. ET: Reactions

Defense attorney Hubert Santos said Skakel was "very happy" about Thursday's ruling.

In a statement, Skakel's family said: "This is the first step in correcting a terrible wrong. We look forward to Michael being vindicated and justice finally being served."

Dorothy Moxley, Martha Moxley's mother, said Thursday she was disappointed.

"I guess we knew that the day would come," she said. "I wasn't completely destroyed, but I wish it didn't happen."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.