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Friday, July 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Kennedy Cousin Loses Bid for New Murder Trial

(CN) - The Connecticut Supreme Court on Monday denied a new murder trial to Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, who was convicted of killing a 15-year-old neighbor in 1975.

Skakel was convicted in 2002 of killing neighbor Martha Moxley.

Justice Joette Katz affirmed the lower court's decision to deny Skakel a new trial.

Skakel tried to introduce new evidence as a basis for a new trial, but Katz agreed with the lower court that the evidence would not have produced a different result.

"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," Katz wrote.

Moxley was with Skakel and other neighbors and friends on "mischief night," the night before Halloween 1975 in Greenwich, Conn. Moxley never returned home, and her body was found under a tree the next day.

Forensic evidence showed that Moxley was attacked in her driveway with a six-iron golf club, and her body was dragged 80 feet to the pine tree where her body was found.

Moxley died of blunt force trauma to the head, and her pants and underwear were pulled down to her ankles. She had also been stabbed in the neck with a piece of the golf-club shaft.

Years after the killing, Skakel was a resident at the Elan School for troubled youth in Poland Springs, Maine. Several of his fellow residents testified at trial that Skakel had confessed to killing Moxley.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. worked on his cousin's appeal and obtained video testimony from Gitano "Tony" Bryant, who implicated two former schoolmates, Adolph Hasbrouck and Burton Tinsley in the killing.

Bryant said that after the murder, Hasbrouck and Tinsley bragged about achieving their goal of taking a girl "caveman style" by hitting her with a club and sexually attacking her. They never used the victim's name, according to Bryant.

This testimony did not win Skakel a new trial in the lower court, which ruled that it was not properly corroborated. "No one has any recall of ever seeing Bryant and his companions ... on the night of the murder," the lower court ruled.

The state high court affirmed the decision on appeal, noting that witnesses would have noticed the black Bryant and Hasbrouck and the mixed-race Tinsley "in an area that was described as a fairly lily-white community.'"

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