Skakel freed on $1.2 million bond

Michael Skakel, at right, exits Stamford Superior Court with his attorney, Hubert Santos and supporters after he was released on bail. — John Ferris Robben

Michael Skakel, at right, exits Stamford Superior Court with his attorney, Hubert Santos and supporters after he was released on bail. — John Ferris Robben

Former Greenwich resident Michael Skakel left Stamford Superior Court a free man on Thursday afternoon after Judge Gary White released him on a $1.2 million bond.

Mr. Skakel was convicted in 2002 of the 1975 murder of teenager Martha Moxley, his neighbor in the Belle Haven section of town. However, last month that verdict was set aside by Judge Thomas Bishop who found merit in Mr. Skakel’s claims that he had not received an adequate defense from attorney Mickey Sherman. Now Mr. Skakel will await a decision from the state as to whether they will retry him on the murder charge. Additionally the state has appealed Judge Bishop’s ruling, meaning Mr. Skakel’s freedom could only be temporary.

The conditions of Mr. Skakel being released on bail is that he live in Connecticut, that he not leave the state without the permission of the court, that he wear a GPS tracking device, that he have no contact with the Moxley family unless the court deems it to be necessary and that he check in with the state’s bail commissioner on a biweekly basis.

The state did not oppose bail being issued in this case but did ask that it be at least $2 million. State’s Attorney John Smriga said during the proceeding that the state would first pursue it’s appeal of Judge Bishop’s ruling before making any decisions about a retrial.

Mr. Skakel’s attorney, Hubert Santos, said in court that Mr. Skakel would take up residence in the state but said he preferred to not say where it would be publicly due to all the media attention surrounding the case. Mr. Skakel’s aunt, Ethel, was the widow of former U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy Jr., making him a cousin to the Kennedy family. Robert Kennedy Jr. has been a frequent advocate for Mr. Skakel in recent years, claiming in interviews and in articles that his cousin is innocent.

The case also gained national notoriety because of the decades-long wait between Ms. Moxley’s murder and charges being brought against Mr. Skakel. Several books have been written on the subject and a TV movie was made for cable.

Mr. Skakel did not speak to the media after exiting the courthouse a free man for the first time in more than 11 years but Mr. Santos made a short statement.

“There were two tragedies that occurred in Greenwich, Conn. in 1975,” Mr. Santos said. “The first was, of course, the murder of Martha Moxley. It was a great tragedy for the Moxley family and everyone else associated with the matter. The second great tragedy occurred in a courthouse in Norwalk, Conn. in 2002 when Michael was convicted of the murder of Martha Moxley, a murder he did not commit. Hopefully we are at the first step of righting that wrong and making sure that an innocent man now goes free.”

Martha Moxley’s mother, Dorothy, and brother, John, attended the hearing and spoke briefly with reporters outside the courthouse. Mrs. Moxley said they were disappointed that Mr. Skakel was out of jail. Mr. Moxley said that there was never any question that they would have been there that day and that they remain convinced of Mr. Skakel’s guilt.

“If there’s another trial we will be there for that too,” Mr. Moxley said.

When asked if he had any messages for Mr. Skakel, Mr. Moxley said he had “Nothing to say to Michael.”

There will be additional coverage in the Nov. 27 edition of the Post.

 

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