The murder conviction of Michael Skakel, a relative of the Kennedy family, has been reinstated by the Connecticut’s Supreme Court after being overturned by a lower court.
Michael Skakel, whose aunt Ethel was the widow of Robert Kennedy, was found guilty in 2002 of killing his teenage neighbor with a golf club in 1975.
He was freed in 2013 after a judge found that his former lawyer had not represented him properly.
Michael Skakel says he is innocent.
The Connecticut Supreme Court voted 4 to 3 to reinstate the conviction.
Image source AP
During the hearing prosecutor Susann Gill said Michael Skakel’s previous lawyer, Michael Sherman, had done a competent job representing his client and said there was “substantial evidence” that he killed Martha Moxley.
It was not immediately clear if Michael Skakel would be sent back to prison. His current lawyer, Hubert Santos, said he was reviewing the ruling and had no immediate comment.
The battered body of Martha Moxley, who lived near the Skakel family in wealthy Greenwich, Connecticut, was found on the lawn of her parents’ house in 1975.
Martha Moxley had been bludgeoned with a golf club – later traced to a set owned by Michael Skakel’s mother – and stabbed in the neck with the shaft of the club.
There were no witnesses or forensic evidence, but several people later testified that they had heard Michael Skakel confess to the crime.
One witness previously quoted Michael Skakel as saying: “I’m going to get away with murder, because I’m a Kennedy.”
The Kennedy family was one of the most prominent families in 20th Century US politics.
Joseph Kennedy was US ambassador to Britain under President Franklin Roosevelt. His son, John F. Kennedy was president between 1961 and 1963, and his other sons Robert and Edward became senators.
In a newly revealed legal filing that asked a court to prohibit Mary Kennedy from threatening suicide in front of their children Robert Kennedy claimed that his estranged wife abused his children from an earlier marriage and violently attacked him on numerous occasions.
Portions of the 60-page confidential divorce affidavit filed in 2011, which includes shocking claims that Mary Kennedy was physically abusive towards Robert and – on one occasion – his daughter, were disclosed in Newsweek magazine’s cover story about her troubled life.
Struggling with debt, depression and drinking heavily, Mary Kennedy searched on the Internet for how to make a noose and asked her housekeeper’s husband to buy some rope, saying it was for a sofa she was making.
Mary Kennedy committed suicide last month at the family’s estate in Bedford, New York, two years after Robert filed for divorce.
Sworn on September 16 2011, Robert Kennedy’s affidavit paints a desperately sad picture of a woman who, experts told Newsweek‘s Laurence Leamer, was suffering from a psychiatric disorder – Borderline Personality Disorder.
The couple, who had four children together, married in April 1994 when Mary was six-months pregnant.
And, according to the affidavit, Mary Kennedy became violent towards Robert shortly before they were married.
“Soon after Mary became pregnant with our first son, Mary, in a sudden rage about my continued friendship with [my ex-wife] Emily, hit me in the face with her fist,” Robert Kennedy said in the documents.
“She was a trained boxer and I got a shiner. Her engagement ring crushed my tear duct causing permanent damage … Mary asked me to lie to her family about the cause of my shiner.”
Robert Kennedy alleges in the affidavit that Mary’s physical abuse frequently reduced him to tears.
Years after that first alleged attack, in May 2011, shortly after the couple separated, Mary Kennedy ran over the family dog Portia, the affidavit claims.
With their children devastated, Mary Kennedy persuaded Robert to come and stay the night to console them – promising that if he visited she would not harass him.
Robert Kennedy duly went over to the estate where a drunken Mary launched a vicious attack on him.
“She […] hit me with a roundhouse punch that, had I not blocked it, would have undoubtedly broken my face. Pointing to Aidan [their youngest son], she screamed, <<You told this child you didn’t love me?>> and hit me again, raining blows down on me as I backed down the hall.
“She struck me maybe 30 times or more,” he alleged in the documents.
Portions of the 60-page confidential divorce affidavit filed in 2011, which includes shocking claims that Mary Kennedy was physically abusive towards Robert, were disclosed in Newsweek magazine’s cover story
In this particular incident, Mary Kennedy allegedly yelled at a crying Aiden that his father was “the most evil kind of man in the world”. Robert Kennedy escaped her continued raining blows by ducking out the kitchen door.
The couple’s housekeeper, who worked for the Kennedys throughout their marriage and was with Robert when he found Mary’s body, remembers an incident where Mary allegedly attacked her husband with a pair of scissors while he was in the bath.
As the couple’s marriage fell apart, their finances dwindled with legal bills soaring to over $1 million, on top of the monthly $40,000 cost to maintain the staffed estate.
Their famously tumultuous relationship began in 1993 while Robert Kennedy’s marriage to Emily was coming to an end after 10 years and having two children, Bobby III and Kathleen “Kick”, together.
Both regulars at AA, Robert and Mary Kennedy each suffered from addictive personalities, the Newsweek article highlighted.
Robert Kennedy had infamously battled a drug addiction while Mary had suffered from anorexia since she attended Putney School in Vermont, where she shared a room with Robert’s younger sister, Kerry.
But, according to Chris Bartle, a godfather to the couple’s youngest son, the couple could not resist one another.
“They couldn’t take their eyes off each other, couldn’t keep their hands off each other. She was glowing and he was repeatedly saying how much he loved her and how glad he was they had gotten together,” Chris Bartle told Newsweek.
However, the marriage soon ran into trouble, according to the affidavit, with the first major incident involving Mary Kenendy’s treatment of Kick, Robert’s daughter from his first marriage.
Visiting her father three weekends a month Kick seemed to lose something at the end of each stay, once it was a plane ticket another time her wallet disappeared.
After being chided by her father, Kick confided to him that she thought Mary Kennedy was stealing from her.
Robert Kennedy immediately dismissed the suggestion.
“She looked me in the eye and said, <<No, Daddy, Mary hates me.>>
“A few weeks later, looking for something in Mary’s bureau, I found a collection of Kick’s lost items concealed beneath a layer of Mary’s clothing,” Robert Kennedy recalls in the documents.
According to the affidavit, it was the first time that Robert Kennedy considered divorce although, on the surface at least, he brushed the incident aside.
Five years later, the affidavit states, Robert Kennedy “learned from Kick and many others who had witnessed Mary’s conduct, the heartbreaking story of Mary’s long campaign of cruelty and abuse directed toward Kick”.
Kick said that her step-mother would take her into a closed room where she would berate her for her apparent faults, Robert Kennedy alleges.
On one occasion Mary slapped Kick for arguing with one of the other children, the affidavit says.
Remaining stoically composed after the deaths of his brothers, Michael and David, Robert Kennedy broke down crying when he discovered Mary’s body hanging from the rafters in a barn at her estate on May 16.
Before Mary Kennedy’s death, he had taken to appearing at public events with their four children, who he had full temporary custody of, and his new girlfriend, 46-year-old actress Cheryl Hines.
Documents showed Mary Kennedy was facing a $32,000 lawsuit from American Express, though this was dropped following her death.
Speaking after Mary Kennedy’s funeral, her old school friend Kerry Kennedy said that Mary had suffered from mental illness the entire 37 years they had known one another.
“She struggled so hard, for so long, with mental illness, which so many Americans suffer with,” Kerry Kennedy said after her death.
“She fought with dignity, and in the end, the demons won.”
The domestic turmoil extended into preparations for her funeral. One of Mary Kennedy’s brothers went to court in an attempt to get custody of her body, while the Kennedys planned to bury her near the family’s seaside compound in Hyannisport, Massachusetts.
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