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Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel seeks reduced murder sentence

January 24, 2012 |  7:17 am
Michael Skakel

Michael Skakel, the Kennedy family cousin  convicted of the murder of a teenage girl more than 25 years after the killing, goes before a Connecticut court Tuesday in hopes of having his sentence reduced.

Skakel was convicted in 2002 and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for beating Martha Moxley to death with a golf club in 1975, when they were neighbors in the tony suburb of Greenwich, Conn. Skakel, who is a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy, was 15 at the time of the crime, as was the victim.

The Halloween eve killing confounded police for decades, prompting allegations that the Kennedy family's clout had hampered the investigation. Skakel was 41 by the time he was convicted. His trial relied on circumstantial evidence and featured recollections of former Skakel classmates who testified about incriminating statements the defendant had made years earlier.

Skakel, who has always maintained his innocence, failed in a 2010 attempt to get his conviction overturned by the Connecticut Supreme Court after the justices said his allegations that two other men could be responsible were not credible. He also has alleged that his first defense attorney was incompetent.

The Hartford Courant reported that Skakel's attorneys would offer several arguments to a three-judge panel in Middletown, Conn., including the position that because Skakel was a juvenile when the crime was committed, he should have been sentenced under laws that capped juvenile sentences.

-- Tina Susman in New York

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Photo: Michael Skakel is escorted from court after a hearing on Aug. 17, 2000, before his trial in the slaying of Martha Moxley 27 years before.. Credit: Michael McAndrews / Hartford Courant

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