VERNON, Conn. – A Connecticut judge is scheduled to hear arguments on whether he has the authority to release Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel from prison while he awaits a new trial in the 1975 slaying of neighbor Martha Moxley.
Judge Thomas Bishop scheduled a hearing Wednesday morning in Rockville Superior Court. Skakel is expected to attend.
Bishop ordered a new trial for Skakel last month, saying his trial attorney, Michael Sherman, failed to adequately represent him in 2002 when he was found guilty of bludgeoning Moxley with a golf club when they were 15-year-old neighbors in wealthy Greenwich. Skakel, the 53-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy, is serving 20 years to life.
Skakel's current attorney, Hubert Santos, 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.
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.
Santos said Bishop has the authority and keeping Skakel in prison would be a miscarriage of justice. 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.
Skakel "has been returned to the status of an innocent defendant awaiting trial," Santos wrote, adding he was not a flight risk and contends it's "highly unlikely" prosecutors will win their appeal.
Gill said she disagrees that an appeal likely won't be successful.
Sherman has said he did all he could to prevent Skakel's conviction and prosecutors have defended his work.