Kennedy Cousin Michael Skakel Freed on Bond While He Awaits New Trial

Skakel is the 53-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy

Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel was released from prison Thursday after a judge granted bail while prosecutors appeal a judge's ruling giving him a new trial in the 1975 slaying of his teenage neighbor Martha Moxley.

Judge Thomas Bishop set bond at $1.2 million, with the condition that Skakel, the 53-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy, wear a GPS-tracking device and remain in the state. He also is to have no contact with the Moxley family and must check in with a bail commissioner periodically.

Moxley's mother, Dorthy, said outside court: "I'm disappointed, but this is life." She added that the family isn't worried for their safety.

"He was just a kid who had problems -- we don't have anything to be afraid of now."

Skakel walked out of the courthouse shortly after 2 p.m. and did not speak publicly.

The Skakel family said in a statement that his release "is the first step in correcting a terrible wrong."

"We look forward to Michael being vindicated and justice finally being served."

Bishop ruled last month in Vernon Superior Court that Skakel's trial attorney, Michael Sherman, failed to adequately represent Skakel in 2002 when his client was convicted in Moxley's death. She was bludgeoned with a golf club in Greenwich when she and Skakel were 15.

The judge, in his ruling last month, said Skakel's attorney failed to locate a witness who backed up Skakel's alibi that he was at his cousin's house the night of the murder and failed to find a man who challenged the claim by a star witness that Skakel confessed.

Skakel has maintained his innocence.

Skakel's attorney, Hubert Santos, has argued for Skakel's release, saying the ruling makes him an innocent defendant awaiting trial and that he is not a flight risk. Santos also argued prosecutors are highly unlikely to win their appeal, a contention prosecutors dispute.

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