Kennedy Cousin May See Early Release from Prison

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According to officials, the Kennedy cousin who was convicted of fatally beating his 15-year-old neighbor with a golf club in 1975, could be eligible for parole in just a few years.

Michael Skakel, who is a cousin of Ethel Kennedy, has earned the right to a parole hearing based on a good-behavior policy that has since been eliminated. He earned points for staying out of trouble while in the Connecticut prison and for participating in programs, including an art program. However, the policy that allowed inmates to accrue points toward early release was discontinued in 1994.

Skakel was convicted in 2002 of the decades-old murder of Martha Moxley, his brother’s girlfriend, whom he beat to death with a golf club when both were just 15 years old. Two former students of a Maine prep school that Skakel later attended said that he confessed to the killing, and that he bragged about it, saying, “I’m going to get away with murder. I’m a Kennedy.”

In the years following Moxley’s death, Skakel was arrested for drunk driving and sent to the Elan School, receiving addiction treatment there. He competed on the national speeding skiing circuit and worked for several Kennedy relations, including Ted Kennedy and cousin Michael Kennedy.

Skakel, now 49, has mounted an elaborate appeal. In November 2003, he appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court, saying that his case should have been heard in Juvenile Court rather than Superior Court, that there had been prosecutorial misconduct in the original trial, and that the statute of limitations had expired. The court rejected the appeal and affirmed his conviction. Skakel has since begun post-conviction proceedings, including a request for a new trial which was denied by a Superior Court judge and by a five-judge panel of the Connecticut Supreme Court, which ruled against the appeal in early April 2010.

Experts agree that the parole hearing will be highly publicized, and wonder if the Connecticut parole board will be overly cautious, due to a recent case in which two paroled prisoners broke into a home, killing three women.

The fact that almost four decades have passed since the Moxley murder, however, may work in Skakel’s favor.

Moxley’s brother, John, opposes the release.

“There’s been no remorse,” he said recently. “There’s been no taking accountability. There’s been nothing to suggest that imprisonment has changed his mindset or the mindset of the family.”

 

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