GREENWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — The lawyer for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel tells News 8 he has ample evidence of his client’s innocence, which he was ready to present before the state dropped the murder case against Skakel.
Attorney Stephan Seeger talked only to News 8 Wednesday. He says his client deserves to be seen as an innocent man in the eyes of the public.
Skakel was convicted nearly 20 years ago for the brutal bludgeoning death of his neighbor, Martha Moxley, when the two were teenagers growing up in the 1970s in Greenwich, CT.
After he had served 11 years in prison, the state’s highest court reversed Skakel’s conviction based partly on the fact that his previous attorney did not call a key alibi witness during the trial.
Last month, state prosecutors formally moved to dismiss the case against Skakel, telling a Stamford Superior Court Judge too many witnesses had died over the years. The hearing was held on the 45th anniversary of Moxley’s death.
“It is my belief that the state cannot prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo told the court.
Seeger, who credits Colangelo with approaching the decades-long case with objectivity and thoroughness, says the evidence was, in fact, never there to support a conviction in the first place.
“He has to heal. He spent 11-and-a-half years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit,” said Seeger.
The now 60-year-old Skakel, who’s headline-grabbing name was inevitably preceded by the qualifier of “Kennedy cousin,” was accused of killing Moxley after she spurned his romantic advances. But despite Robert F Kennedy Jr. being one of Skakel’s staunchest and most high-profile defenders, Seeger says the notoriety that came with the association to America’s favored political clan blinded the public.
Though the families are cousins, “There’s no real close connection between the Skakel family and the Kennedy family,” said Seeger. “The sensationalism that can be attributed to the Kennedy relationship really is something Michael suffered from, not benefited from at all.”
Seeger insists there is ample evidence that surfaced in intervening years to raise doubt about the identity of the killer, including the still-living professed alibi witness who never testified. Seeger had planned to call him at any future trial. The attorney also claims to have hair from the crime scene that doesn’t match his client and planned to poke holes in the police investigation of the murder weapon.
“If you take a closer look at the story–the evidence that was not allowed in, the new evidence that’s cropped up, the projected landscape of a trial in the future–you can’t help but conclude not only will the state not be able to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt, but that Michael Skakel is 100% innocent of this crime. Had nothing to do with this. Was miles away when it happened,” insists Seeger.
But Martha Moxley’s family is satisfied that Skakel is her killer. After the state moved to dismiss the case, Moxley’s brother John said he does not demonize Skakel, who he said had drug and alcohol issues at the time of the murder. Moxley said the first conviction was enough for the family, and they’re ready to move forward in their lives.
“His life will never be the same and mine will never be the same. I wouldn’t want to walk a mile in his shoes,” said John Moxley the day the case was dismissed. “The only thing we can control is the way we behave ourselves.”
Skakel is moving on, too, according to Seeger, who says his client continues to care for elderly family members, focus on his sobriety, and on his relationship with his son–a toddler at the time of Skakel’s conviction, now a young 20-something. And, Seeger adds, without the burden of a murder charge, Skakel is working to reshape his relationship with the rest of his family, as well. His brother Tommy was an initial suspect in the murder but never charged with a crime.
Seeger says Skakel is working on turning his past into something positive, “There is no winner in this case,” he said.