Robert F. Kennedy Jr. disputes
NORWALK Michael Skakelís murder conviction stemmed
from weak evidence, a poor job by his attorney and a
prosecution driven by celebrities such as Dominick
Dunne and Mark Fuhrman, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. argues
in a new magazine article.
Kennedy, who is Skakelís cousin, makes the accusations
in a 15,000-word article, "A Miscarriage of Justice,"
in the edition of The Atlantic Monthly scheduled to be
released next week.
Skakel, 42, is serving 20 years to life in prison. He
was convicted in June of the October 1975 beating
death of his Greenwich neighbor, Martha Moxley. She
was bludgeoned to death with a golf club when she and
Skakel were both 15. Skakelís attorneys plan to
Kennedy writes that he knows Skakel as well as anyone,
noting that they attended hundreds of alcoholism
recovery meetings where they shared their deepest
feelings. He credits Skakel with helping him get
"I support him not out of misguided family loyalty but
because I am certain he is innocent," Kennedy writes.
"If he were guilty I would have testified against
Prosecutor Jonathan Benedict said the case against
Skakel was strong. He noted that numerous witnesses
testified that Skakel had confessed to the crime or
made incriminating statements over the years.
"You put that all together and thatís what convicted
him," Benedict said. "What sunk Michael Skakel was his
Kennedy is better known as an environmental attorney.
He attended little of the trial, but said to prepare
the article he interviewed Skakelís siblings, his
lawyers, other witnesses and investigators.
Over the years, as the case remained unsolved,
observers have suggested that money and power somehow
protected Skakel, whose fatherís sister is the widow
of U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
"The case has remained unsolved for so many years not
because of Skakel family wealth, power and connections
but because it is baffling," Kennedy writes. "This one
was especially difficult because of a parade of more
than 40 potential suspects."
Kennedy accuses Skakelís defense lawyer, Michael
Sherman, of being more interested in publicity than
his client. Before the trial, Kennedy writes, Sherman
should have appealed a ruling rejecting his argument
that there was a five-year statute of limitations for
murders in 1975.
"An early victory in such an appeal would have
deprived Sherman of the nationally publicized trial he
expected would boost his career," Kennedy said.
Kennedy also accuses Sherman of trying to get Skakelís
sister, Julie, to lie on the witness stand to boost
Skakelís alibi; conducting weak cross examinations;
failing to prepare his own witnesses; and failing to
explain why Skakel changed his account of his
movements the night of the murder. He also faults
Sherman for selecting a police officer as a juror.
Sherman denied the charges. He said the defense team
had agreed that the best time for an appeal was after
"When you win, youíre a hero. When you lose, youíre
two notches below Satan," Sherman said. "Anybody who
knows me knows how much I believe in Michael Skakel
and how hard I fought and will continue to fight for
Kennedy devotes much of the article to evidence
against Kenneth Littleton, who had just started his
job as a Skakel family tutor the night Moxley was
murdered. Littleton failed repeated lie detector
tests, changed his account of his movements that night
and engaged in increasingly bizarre behavior in the
years after the murder, Kennedy writes.
"I do not know that Ken Littleton killed Martha
Moxley," Kennedy writes. "I do know ó and as a former
prosecutor I understand the laws of evidence ó that
the stateís case against Littleton was much stronger
than any case against Michael Skakel."
Benedict said Kennedy exaggerated the number of lie
detector tests Littleton had taken and said state
police even refused to test him because of his mental
illness. No evidence was ever developed incriminating
Littleton, Benedict said.
"I have never seen anybody investigated as extensively
as Ken Littleton was," Benedict said.