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State prosecutors look to put Skakel back in prison

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(WTNH/ABC) — State prosecutors want to put Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel back behind bars. It’s been more than a year since the Connecticut State Supreme Court upheld his 2002 murder conviction. Prosecutors say Skakel’s time is up.

If there is one thing we know about the Skakel case, however, it is that everything about it takes time. It was 1975 when Martha Moxley was murdered near her Greenwich home. It was another quarter of a century before Skakel, her neighbor, was arrested. Then the legal battle began.

First, the question was whether to try Skakel as a juvenile, since he was also 15 at the time of the murder.

“If he’s going to be tried, he frankly should be tried as a juvenile. It doesn’t make sense that he wouldn’t be,” is what his attorney at the time, Mickey Sherman, told News8 in August of 2000. Sherman lost that argument, and ended up losing the whole case.Related Content: Top Connecticut court cases in 2018 involve Newtown, Skakel

Police found no evidence linking Skakel to the murder, but charged him based on statements he made to classmates. Skakel was convicted in 2002 and was sentenced to 20 years to life.

Then it became Sherman’s defense work that ended up being the basis for Skakel’s appeal. His new attorneys argued Sherman did not call a potential alibi witness. A judge agreed and ordered a new trial. In November 2013, Skakel was freed on bail, but the state appealed that ruling.

In February 2016, Skakel was in Connecticut Supreme Court, his attorney still blaming Mickey Sherman for shoddy defense work in 2002.

In a slim 4-3 decision, the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld the conviction, saying Sherman’s defense was adequate and Skakel should go back to prison. Skakel’s lawyers filed a Motion of Reconsideration, however, essentially asking the court to revisit the case. Until then, Skakel is still out on bail.Related Content: Court issues final ruling reinstating Skakel conviction

Prosecutors say it’s been more than a year since the supreme court ruling, the court is unlikely to change its mind, and this convicted murderer needs to go back behind bars. Skakel’s lawyer, Stephan E. Seeger, released a statement which read, in part:

“The State’s attempt to have my client incarcerated before his rights are properly determined, ignores appellate rules and their underlying policies.  Michael Skakel, like any other Defendant, is entitled to an automatic stay during a pending Motion for Reconsideration, and up to 20 days thereafter, in contemplation of subsequent U.S. Supreme Court filings. .  The argument that Motions for Reconsiderations are never granted, is misguided and presumptuous.  And “never say never” is an  old adage consistent with our appellate rules.

“The Court is considering a cornerstone constitutional right, related to every citizen’s expectation of a fair trial.  Contrary to what the State has argued, the time that has passed doesn’t undermine our system, it reinforces the fact that appellate review is alive and well, and  important in our society.  For that reason, it needs to take its course.   While it is rare for the Supreme Court to overturn itself, so to speak, appellate rules contemplate a Court decision that deserves another look, based upon legal reasons insufficiently considered or overlooked in an initial ruling.  Clearly, the Supreme Court is taking a close look at the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel, as it should, and the State’s desperate ‘come on already” argument has no sound legal basis.'”

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