Here’s a look at the life of Michael Skakel, the nephew of Ethel Kennedy. Skakel was convicted in 2002 of the 1975 murder of his neighbor, Martha Moxley. Skakel ‘s conviction was vacated by the Connecticut Supreme Court in 2018. In October 2020, the Connecticut State’s Attorney announced they will not retry Skakel.
Birth date: September 19, 1960
Birth place: Greenwich, Connecticut
Birth name: Michael Skakel
Father: Rushton Skakel Sr.
Mother: Anne Skakel
Marriage: Margot Sheridan (1991-2001, divorced)
Children: George, 1999
Education: Curry College, Milton, Massachusetts, B.A., 1993
Both Skakel and victim Martha Moxley were 15 years old at the time, and lived near each other in Greenwich, Connecticut.
His older brother, Tommy, and their live-in tutor, Kenneth Littleton, were also suspects.
Prosecutors claimed Skakel killed Moxley in a jealous rage.
Dominick Dunne’s bestselling 1993 novel “A Season in Purgatory” is based on the case.
October 30, 1975 - Martha Moxley fails to return home after her evening out concludes with a stop at the Skakel home to visit Tommy and Michael Skakel, Kennedy nephews by marriage.
October 31, 1975 - Martha’s body is discovered. She is believed to have been beaten to death with a golf club, which is found near her body. Tommy Skakel is questioned by the police.
1978 - Michael Skakel is charged with drunken driving. To sidestep a prosecution, Skakel family attorneys work out a deal with police: Skakel will go to the Elan School in Poland Spring, Maine, to be treated for alcohol addiction and the state will not pursue the charges.
1994 - Skakel works as an aide to Sen. Edward Kennedy’s reelection campaign.
1998 - Two books based on the crime are published - “Greentown,” by Timothy Dumas, and “Murder in Greenwich,” by Mark Fuhrman.
June 1998 - Superior Court Judge George Thim begins an 18-month one-person grand jury review of information gathered by investigators.
January 19, 2000 - An arrest warrant for an unnamed individual is issued in the Moxley murder. Later the same day, Skakel surrenders to police and is released on $500,000 bond.
June 21, 2000 - At a pre-trial hearing, two of Skakel’s former classmates at the Elan School in Maine testify that he had confessed to them back in the 1970s, “I’m gonna get away with murder. I’m a Kennedy.”
May 7, 2002 - Testimony begins in the case.
June 7, 2002 - Skakel is convicted.
August 29, 2002 - Skakel is sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
November 24, 2003 - Attorneys file an appeal, seeking to overturn his murder conviction.
January 13, 2006 - The conviction is upheld by the Connecticut Supreme Court.
November 13, 2006 - The US Supreme Court declines to hear Skakel’s appeal, meaning his conviction stands.
April 17, 2007 - Skakel’s petition for a new trial is filed. Former high school classmate Gitano “Tony” Bryant says two of his friends were involved in the murder, not Skakel.
October 25, 2007 - The petition for new trial is denied as the judge finds statements not credible that Bryant and his two friends, all African American, could go unnoticed in the mostly white neighborhood.
November 6, 2007 - Skakel’s lawyers file a writ of habeas corpus and petition for a new trial in federal district court.
September 27, 2010 - Skakel’s lawyers file a new appeal claiming that his trial attorney, Mickey Sherman, was incompetent in that he failed to obtain evidence from prosecuting attorneys pointing to other suspects, and that Sherman’s own financial problems drew his focus away from the case. Sherman had pleaded guilty in June to failing to pay $400,000 in federal income taxes.
February 8, 2011 - Skakel testifies in his appeal hearing, the fourth attempt at overturning his conviction.
March 6, 2012 - His appeal is denied by a three-judge panel of the Connecticut Supreme Court.
October 24, 2012 - Skakel is denied parole by the state parole board in Suffield, Connecticut.
October 23, 2013 - A Connecticut Appellate judge orders a new trial for Skakel, saying defense attorney Mickey Sherman’s representation of Skakel was “constitutionally deficient.”
November 21, 2013 - Skakel is released after his bail is posted. Superior Court Judge Gary White sets several conditions for the bail, including barring Skakel from leaving Connecticut without court approval, ordering him to wear a GPS tracking device and requiring that he report to a bail commissioner.
August 8, 2014 - Prosecutors file an appeal to reinstate Skakel’s conviction of killing Moxley in 1975. If the appeal fails, prosecutors state they will retry Skakel.
December 30, 2016 - The Connecticut Supreme Court reinstates Skakel’s 2002 murder conviction in a 4-3 decision, reversing the appellate court’s order for a new trial in 2013. The final version of the court’s decision is released on May 8, 2017.
January 6, 2017 - Skakel’s attorneys file a motion to reconsider the ruling of the Connecticut Supreme Court and requesting a seven-member court panel hear the motion to ensure a “full and fair determination.” The argument raises an unprecedented issue, as the judge who authored the majority decision retired from the court and cannot participate in any future decisions.
May 4, 2018 - The Connecticut Supreme Court vacates Skakel’s conviction. Prosecutors can choose to retry Skakel, but had no comment immediately following the decision.
August 8, 2018 - Connecticut files a petition with the US Supreme Court to review the decision by Connecticut’s high court to vacate Skakel’s conviction based on inadequate assistance of counsel. Skakel files a brief in response to Connecticut’s petition approximately three months later.
January 7, 2019 - The US Supreme Court denies Connecticut’s petition for review.
July 24, 2020 - Federal Judge Michael Shea rules that Connecticut officials cannot keep judicial records and court proceedings secret for cases involving teenagers charged with major felonies, a ruling that will reopen Skakel’s case to the public if he is retried.
October 30, 2020 - Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr. announces that prosecutors for the state of Connecticut will not retry Skakel for the death of Moxley. Addressing the Stamford Superior Court, Colangelo confirms that after “Looking at the evidence, your honor, looking at the state of the case, it is my belief that the state cannot prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt.”