Court Denies Skakel Appeal

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Michael Skakel in 2002 as he is escorted out of Norwalk Superior Court after being sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for the 1975 murder of his neighbor Martha Moxley.

    On Monday morning, the state Supreme Court released its ruling on Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel's appeal. The court denied his new trial for a conviction in the murder of Martha Moxley.

    In 2002, he was convicted in the 1975 brutal slaying of his 15-year-old neighbor and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

    Skakel’s Kennedy connections, the brutal manner in which Moxley was killed and the fact that the killing happened in a posh Greenwich neighborhood captured the nation’s attention. Eventually, books were written on the case and movies were made.

    Skakel, the nephew of Ethel Kennedy, beat Martha Moxley with a golf club in Greenwich, police said.

    He had asked for a new trial after another man implicated his two friends in the killing. In 2007, a judge in Stamford turned that request down. Skakel then appealed. It was again denied on Monday. 

    Skakel, 49, had asked for a new trial after Gitano "Tony" Bryant, who attended the same private school as Skakel, implicated his two friends in the killing.

    Bryant gave a videotaped statement to an investigator Skakel hired in which he said his two friends were in Greenwich the night Moxley was killed. He said they told him they got Moxley "caveman" style.

    Bryant has since invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The two men he implicated have done the same.

    Prosecutors have said Bryant's claim was fabricated and that nobody saw him and his friends in the predominantly white, gated neighborhood the night of the murder. Bryant and one of the men he implicated are black; the other has been described as mixed race.

    Bryant only made the allegations when he offered to assist in developing a screenplay on the murder, according to court documents.  

     “We conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the petitioner had not satisfied the prerequisites for a new trial, and, accordingly, we affirm its judgment denying the petition,” the opinion states.

    "Even though the [petitioner] became aware of the two reports during trial, he did not raise a Brady challenge to the state’s failure to provide him with the reports until two and one-half months after the five day limitation period [for filing a motion for a new trial under] . . . § 42-54 had expired,’’ the opinion states.

     

    Justice Palmer dissented.  

    “In particular, I am convinced that the trial court improperly denied the petitioner a new trial on the basis of information brought forward by Gitano ‘‘Tony’’ Bryant—information that directly implicates two other suspects,” the judge wrote in a 103 page dissent, “after failing to evaluate the significance of that newly discovered evidence in light of the nature and strength of the original trial evidence.”