NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Prosecutors objected Wednesday to releasing Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel from prison while he awaits a new trial in the 1975 slaying of neighbor Martha Moxley.
Connecticut Judge Thomas Bishop last week ordered a new trial for Skakel, ruling his trial attorney, Michael Sherman, failed to adequately represent him in 2002 when he was found guilty in Moxley's golf club bludgeoning. Skakel and Moxley were 15-year-old neighbors in wealthy Greenwich at the time of her death.
Skakel, the 53-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy, was sentenced to 20 years to life.
Hubert Santos, Skakel's current attorney, filed a motion after the ruling seeking a $500,000 bond. Bishop asked for legal briefs from both sides, questioning whether he has the authority to consider a motion for bond because his orders are stayed and state law excludes bail for those convicted of murder.
Prosecutors said in a legal brief filed in Rockville Superior Court that Bishop doesn't have the authority to grant bond because of an automatic stay of his ruling while they appeal. Prosecutor Susann Gill said state law excludes bail for those convicted of murder and terminating the stay would thwart the administration of justice by requiring the state to retry Skakel before an appeal is finished.
"The state is entitled to avail itself of the appellate process and seek vindication of a result it believes to be unjust," Gill wrote.
In his brief, Santos said Bishop has the authority to grant bail and keeping Skakel locked up until his next trial "would be a miscarriage of justice of the highest order."
Santos said automatic stays during appeals do not apply to cases like Skakel's and even if they did the court has the authority to terminate the stay. He said Skakel was not a flight risk and that it's "highly unlikely" prosecutors will win their appeal.
Gill said she disagrees with Santos' argument that an appeal likely won't be successful.
Sherman has said he did all he could to prevent Skakel's conviction.
It's unclear when Bishop will rule.