Michael Skakel convicted of 1975 murder in Greenwich

Michael Skakel convicted of 1975 murder in Greenwich


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On June 7, 2002, 41-year-old Michael Skakel is convicted in the 1975 murder of his former Greenwich, Connecticut, neighbor, 15-year-old Martha Moxley. Skakel, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, the wife of the late U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy, was later sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

On October 30, 1975, Moxley was bludgeoned to death with a golf club outside her family’s home in Greenwich, one of America’s most affluent communities. The golf club was later determined to have come from a set belonging to the Skakel family, who lived across the street from the Moxleys. Investigators initially focused on one of Michael Skakel’s older brothers, the last person Moxley reportedly was seen alive with, as well as the Skakels’ live-in tutor as possible suspects, but no arrests were made due to lack of evidence, and the case stalled.

In the early 1990s, Connecticut authorities relaunched the investigation, and public interest in the case also was reignited by several new books, including Dominick Dunne’s “A Season in Purgatory” (1993), a fictionalized account of the crime, and former Los Angeles police detective Mark Fuhrman’s “A Murder in Greenwich” (1998), in which he claimed that Michael Skakel killed Moxley in a jealous rage because she was romantically interested in his older brother. In 2000, based in part on statements made by former classmates of Skakel’s who claimed he admitted to them in the 1970s to killing Moxley, he was charged with her murder.

Skakel, who came from a family of seven children, had a wealthy, privileged upbringing; however, his mother died from cancer in 1973 and he had a troubled relationship with his father. In the late 1970s, Skakel, who began drinking heavily as a teen, was sent to the Elan School, a private boarding school in Poland, Maine, for troubled youth. At Skakel’s 2002 trial, the prosecution presented testimony from several of his former Elan classmates who stated that in the 1970s Skakel had confessed to killing Moxley. One ex-classmate, a drug addict who died shortly before the 2002 trial started, claimed at a previous court hearing that Skakel told him, “I am going to get away with murder because I am a Kennedy.”

At trial, prosecutors, who had no eyewitnesses and no physical evidence directly linking Skakel to the murder, played a 1997 taped conversation between Skakel and the ghostwriter of an autobiography Skakel hoped to sell. Skakel said on tape that on the night of the murder he climbed into a tree in the Moxleys’ yard, while drunk and high on marijuana, and masturbated as he tried to look into Martha Moxley’s bedroom window. He said that when Moxley’s mother came to his house the next morning looking for her daughter, he felt panicked and wondered if someone had seen him the night before. Although Skakel never admitted on the tape to killing Moxley, prosecutors said his words put him at the scene of the crime and were an attempt to cover up the slaying.

After three days of deliberations, jurors found Skakel guilty of murder, and in August 2002, he was sentenced to 20 years to life behind bars. Skakel’s cousin, Robert Kennedy Jr., an attorney, later worked to get Skakel a new trial; however, in 2010, the request was denied by the Connecticut Supreme Court.

In October 2013, in yet another twist to the case, a Connecticut judge ordered a new trial for Skakel, ruling that his first trial lawyer didn’t represent him effectively. The following month, Skakel was released from prison on a $1.2 million bond. In 2018, Skakel's murder conviction was vacated by the Connecticut Supreme Court.


Skakel Convicted in 1975 Beating Death of Greenwich Neighbor

NORWALK, Conn., June 7 &#0151 A jury convicted Michael C. Skakel today of murder in the 1975 bludgeoning death of Martha Moxley, using more than a quarter century of circumstantial evidence, incriminating statements and erratic behavior by Mr. Skakel to conclude that he killed Miss Moxley, his friend and neighbor, when they were both just 15 years old.

Today's verdict, after a three-and-a-half-week trial in which there was no direct physical evidence, brought a stunning conclusion to the nearly 27-year saga of the Moxley killing, which has been one of the most sensational murder mysteries in the Northeast, surrounded by a swirl of wealth and celebrity. Mr. Skakel, 41, who is a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, faces a sentence of up to life in prison.

The jury, in State Superior Court here, announced it had reached a verdict just after 10:30 a.m., shortly after starting its fourth day of deliberations. Mr. Skakel appeared stunned as the foreman pronounced the verdict in the packed, silent courtroom. He stood at the defense table, his face flushed, his lips pursed together. His lawyer, Michael Sherman, put a hand on Mr. Skakel's shoulder.

As the clerk polled each juror individually, the victim's mother, Dorthy Moxley, and her son, John, clutched each other in their front row seats and cried, tears streaming past their astonished smiles.

Moments later, Judge John F. Kavanewsky Jr., who presided over the trial, ordered Mr. Skakel handcuffed. A brother, David Skakel, reached for him but was pushed back by a court marshal.

Sentencing was set for July 16 and Mr. Skakel, whose bail was revoked, was taken to the Bridgeport Correctional Center.

Outside the courthouse, Mrs. Moxley faced a huge encampment of reporters and television crews. Through tears, Mrs. Moxley said she had prayed before court. "My prayer started out, `Dear Lord, again today like I have been doing for 27 years, I'm praying that I can find justice for Martha. You know this whole thing was about Martha.' " She added: "This is Martha's day. This is truly Martha's day."

Behind her, on a courthouse wall, someone had posted a sign: "Justice at last."

John Moxley, Martha's brother, said: "Victory doesn't go with this. This is hollow. It doesn't bring Martha back." Regarding what sentence he hoped Mr. Skakel would receive, Mr. Moxley said, "We've been through this for 27 years, so Iɽ like to build on that and go up."

He also said of Mr. Skakel: "His life has been hell for 27 years. It's clear that the consciousness of guilt has followed him wherever he went. Perhaps now maybe he can start to find the other side of that."

Mr. Skakel's lawyer, Michael Sherman, said he was bitterly disappointed and would appeal the verdict. "I will only tell you that this is not over," he said. "I'm not bitter. I'm determined. I believe in Michael Skakel. I believe Michael Skakel. Like I said earlier, he didn't do it. He doesn't have a clue who did. He wasn't there. He never confessed. I meant it then. I mean it now. And I'm going to mean it in the next six months to three years or whatever it takes to get him out of custody. And it will happen. It will happen."

Mr. Skakel's brother David said: "Martha's short life and the manner of her death should never be forgotten. For our family grieving has coincided with accusation. Michael is innocent. I know this because I know Michael like only a brother does. Our family has been under great scrutiny for over 27 years. We all know each other so very well and we all stand behind our brother Michael. Not out of loyalty but stemming from intimate understanding. You may want finality to this tragedy and our family wants the same as much as anyone. But truth is more important than closure."

The case set a number of legal precedents in Connecticut and raised some exceedingly complex questions about juvenile justice: how to try and potentially punish a 41-year-old man for a crime committed when he was a boy. Mr. Skakel was initially charged as a juvenile but the case was transferred to Superior Court where he was tried as an adult. Conviction in juvenile court would have meant little or no jail time.

The jurors were forced to weigh the prosecution's load of circumstantial evidence, including numerous reported confessions by Mr. Skakel, against the constant reminders by the defense that there was no physical evidence against him and that investigators had long focused on two former suspects: Thomas Skakel, an older brother of the defendant, and Kenneth W. Littleton, a live-in tutor for the Skakel family.

Ultimately, however, prosecutors pieced together enough of the puzzle for jurors to place Mr. Skakel at the crime scene and give him both motive and opportunity. The evidence showed he had unrequited feelings for Miss Moxley and ready access to the golf club that was used as a murder weapon. That investigators found no bloody fingerprints or traces of semen did not stand in the way of jurors declaring him guilty.

By far the most damaging evidence against Mr. Skakel came from his own mouth: a taped conversation in 1997 with the ghost writer of an autobiography that Mr. Skakel hoped to write. On the tape, he described himself as drunk, high on marijuana and sexually aroused on the night of the murder, and said he climbed a tree in the Moxley yard where he masturbated trying to peep into Martha Moxley's bedroom.

Today's verdict, by a jury of six men and six women, caps the nearly 27-year saga of one of Connecticut's most sensational crimes: a murder mystery set in one of the most exclusive and wealthy neighborhoods in one of the country's most exclusive and wealthy towns, and involving relatives of the Kennedy family, the nation's most storied and troubled political dynasty.

The swirl of wealth and celebrity surrounding the case spawned numerous television specials and at least three books, including "Murder in Greenwich," written by Mark Fuhrman, the former Los Angeles detective known for his role in the O. J. Simpson case. National attention continued throughout the trial with a horde of photographers and television crews encamped in the courthouse parking lot.

Lawyers on both sides faced a heavy burden in trying a case so old. At least three important witnesses died before the trial got under way. Testimony from earlier proceedings given by one deceased witness, Gregory Coleman, a former classmate of Mr. Skakel's at a school for troubled youths in Maine, was read to the jury, prompting complaints from the defense that it could not cross-examine a dead man.

But the living witnesses also presented challenges. On both sides, many could no longer clearly recall the events of October 1975. Quite a number of witnesses were former students at Elan, the school for troubled youths in Maine, and went on to troubled adulthoods. One, Dorothy Rogers, was brought to testify from prison in North Carolina where she is serving a sentence on charges related to drunkenness.

Ms. Rogers testified that as a teenager in Greenwich she burned down her parents home. Evidence showed that Mr. Littleton had once tried suicide by going into the ocean and waiting for sharks to eat him. Mr. Littleton also testified that he was once arrested by Florida police for drunkenness and identified himself as "Kenny Kennedy, the black sheep of the Kennedy family."

Mr. Skakel, now a divorced father of one, was arrested and charged in January 2000. After running up against numerous dead ends in the 1970's, the investigation had languished through the 1980's and was revived by the Bridgeport state's attorney's office in 1991. For many years, the driving force was Dorthy Moxley, the victim's mother, who never stopped insisting on justice for her daughter.

Martha Moxley, a cute, popular, flirty teenager, was savagely bludgeoned to death with a golf club outside her family's home in the gated Belle Haven section of Greenwich on Oct. 30, 1975. It was the night before Halloween, commonly referred to as mischief night, an occasion when teenagers throughout the neighborhood engaged in raucous tomfoolery, spraying shaving cream and hurling eggs and toilet paper.

Forensics experts testified that Miss Moxley was disabled by perhaps just one blow from the golf club &#0151 a Toney Penna six-iron from a set that had belonged to Mr. Skakel's mother. But she was then struck with such force that the steel club broke into three pieces, the club head and a portion of shaft flying more than 100 feet away. The killer then used another piece of the shaft to stab Miss Moxley through the neck.

Her body was then dragged more than 80 feet, under a huge pine tree, where she was found the next day lying face down with her jeans and underwear pulled down around her ankles, her legs and her blue and yellow-striped shirt stained with blood. When she did not return home that night, her mother began calling friends and neighbors, including the Skakels, who lived just across the road.

Still in search of her daughter the next morning, Mrs. Moxley knocked on the door of the Skakel home. It was answered by Michael Skakel. In the taped conversation with the ghost writer, Richard Hoffman, Mr. Skakel said that he panicked at the sight of Mrs. Moxley. "I woke up to Mrs. Moxley saying, `Michael have you seen Martha?' " Mr. Skakel said on the tape.

"And I was like still high from the night before, a little drunk," Mr. Skakel continued on the tape. "I was like, `Oh my God, did they see me last night?' " Although Mr. Skakel never confessed in the taped conversation, prosecutors insisted that it was clear evidence of his guilt, that his panic was not over whether someone saw him masturbating but whether someone saw him swinging the golf club, killing his friend.


Timeline of case against Michael Skakel in 1975 killing

Prosecutors announced Friday they were not seeking a new murder trial for Michael Skakel, the nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel Kennedy. Here is a timeline of key developments in the case:

— Oct. 30, 1975: Greenwich teenager Martha Moxley is beaten to death with a golf club, later traced to a set owned by Michael Skakel’s late mother. Moxley’s battered body is found the next day under a tree on her family’s estate. The case is unsolved for 25 years and is the subject of several books.

— June 17, 1998: Prosecutors announce that a one-judge grand jury has been appointed to investigate the murder.

— Jan. 18, 2000: Arrest warrant issued.

— Jan. 19, 2000: Skakel surrenders to police. He is charged as a juvenile because he was 15 at the time of the murder.

— March 14, 2000: Skakel is arraigned. He approaches the victim’s mother in court and tells her: “You’ve got the wrong guy.”

— April 19, 2001: Gregory Coleman, who attended a substance abuse treatment center with Skakel in the 1970s, admits being high on heroin when he testified before the grand jury but stands by his testimony that Skakel said he would get away with murder because “I’m a Kennedy.”

— June 7, 2002: Skakel is convicted by a panel of 12 jurors in Norwalk Superior Court. Two months later, he is sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

— Aug. 26, 2004: Skakel seeks a new trial based on a claim by Gitano “Tony” Bryant that implicates two men in the murder.

— April 12, 2010: Connecticut Supreme Court rejects Skakel’s bid for a new trial, ruling a claim implicating two other men was not credible.

— Sept. 27, 2010: Skakel files a new appeal of his murder conviction, this time arguing his high-profile trial attorney, Michael Sherman, was incompetent.

— Oct. 24, 2012: A state parole board denies his bid for freedom, telling him he could be considered for release again in five years.

— April 25, 2013: Skakel, who did not testify at his trial, takes the stand in support of his appeal to argue Sherman did a poor job. He said Sherman took photos of the judge and jury with a pen camera and had him sign an autograph. “I was flabbergasted at the nonchalant attitude,” Skakel said.

— Oct. 23, 2013: A Connecticut judge grants a new trial for Skakel, ruling his attorney failed to adequately represent him when he was convicted in 2002.

— Nov. 21, 2013: Skakel is granted bail as prosecutors appeal the ruling for a new trial. Skakel posts $1.2 million bail and is freed pending appeal.

— Dec. 30, 2016: A divided Connecticut Supreme Court reinstates Skakel’s conviction. In a 4-3 decision, it rejects a lower court ruling that his trial lawyer didn’t adequately represent him. Skakel, then 56, faces a possible return to prison.

— Jan. 9, 2017: Lawyers for Skakel ask the Connecticut Supreme Court to reconsider its decision to reinstate his murder conviction — a request that adds another twist to the case because the justice who wrote the 4-3 majority ruling has left the court.

— Feb. 22, 2018: Connecticut Supreme Court rejects a request by prosecutors to revoke Skakel’s bail and send him back to prison.

— May 4, 2018: Connecticut Supreme Court vacates Skakel’s murder conviction 4-3 and orders a new trial, saying defense attorney Michael Sherman failed to present evidence of an alibi.

— Jan. 7, 2019: The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, leaving in place the decision that vacated the murder conviction.

— Oct. 30, 2020: Prosecutors announce they will not seek a second trial for Skakel on the murder charge.


Michael Skakel: Brother, Thomas, lied about Moxley

1 of 39 In this Oct. 24, 2012, file photo, Michael Skakel listens during a parole hearing at McDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Conn. Prosecutors want a judge to dismiss Michael Skakel's latest challenge of his 2002 murder conviction, saying the Kennedy cousin's claim that his trial attorney did a poor job should have been raised in an earlier appeal and that many of the issues he cites were previously rejected, Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, Pool, File) Jessica Hill/Associated Press Show More Show Less

2 of 39 Thomas Skakel, the older brother of Michael Skakel, leaving the Norwalk courthouse during Michael's murder trial in 2002. Before Michael was charged, Thomas was considered the lead suspect in the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley. Thomas, who was 17 at the time of her death, was the last person seen with Moxley the night she was murdered. Mel Greer/GT Show More Show Less

4 of 39 Martha Moxley, shown in this undated photo was found bludgeoned to death with a golf club on her family's estate in Greenwich, Conn in 1975. Her neighbor, Michael Skakel was convicted June 7, 2002, in the 1975 murder and is serving a prison sentence of 20 years to life. File Photo Show More Show Less

5 of 39 Michael Skakel, right, and attorney Hope Seeley, left, during a hearing at state Superior Court in Stamford, Conn. on Monday, April 23, 2007 to determine if Michael Skakel can get a new trial in his 2002 conviction for the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley in Greenwich, Conn. /Staff photo Chris Preovolos/ file photo/Chris Preovolos Show More Show Less

7 of 39 Connecticut state Supreme Court Justice Richard Palmer, center, questions attorneys at the Connecticut Supreme Court in Hartford, Conn., Thursday, March 26, 2009 as the court hears arguments as to why they should throw out Michael Skakel's conviction on murder charges in the 1975 death of 15-year-old Martha Moxley in Greenwich, Conn. From left are: Justice Peter Zarella, Palmer, Justice Joette Katz, who presided. File Photo Show More Show Less

8 of 39 Michael Skakel enters the Norwalk Courthouse with his attorney, Michael Sherman. File Photo Show More Show Less

10 of 39 As Michael Skakel, right, covers his face during a tense moment in testimony, defense attorney Hubert Santos questions author Len Levitt about the book Levitt wrote concerning the Moxley murder. Action at the Skakel trial. File Photo Show More Show Less

11 of 39 Michael Skakel wipes tears from his eyes as Cliff Grubin takes the witness stand Tuesday, April 24, 2007, in Stamford Superior Court in Stamford, Conn., during the Skakel's appeal of his conviction in the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley in Greenwich, Conn. Skakel attended a reformatory school where he met Grubin. File Photo Show More Show Less

13 of 39 Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. speaks to the press after testifying in a hearing for his cousin, Michael Skakel, at Stamford, Conn., Superior Court, Tuesday, April 17, 2007. Michael Skakel who was convicted in 2002 for the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley, is seeking a new trial. File Photo Show More Show Less

14 of 39 Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel , convicted in the murder of Martha Moxley was at one time a high-profile inmate at the Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown, CT. File Photo Show More Show Less

16 of 39 Dorthy and John Moxley stand together to give a statement after a guilty verdict in the murder trial of Martha Moxley. "This day is for Martha" said Dorthy after waiting 27 years for this verdict. File Photo Show More Show Less

17 of 39 Michael Sherman addresses the media after a guilty verdict in the Martha Moxley murder trial. He is flanked by David Skakel, on left, and Steven Skakel, on right, two of Michael Skakel's brothers. File Photo Show More Show Less

19 of 39 Kris Steele walks down the steps of the courthouse with Michael Skakel during the trial. Steele Skakel's bodyguard during the trial. File Photo Show More Show Less

20 of 39 Author and Vanity Fair reporter Dominick Dunne leaves the court house during lunch break for the first day of jury selection. File Photo Show More Show Less

22 of 39 Dorthy Moxley (right) and her son John Moxley, addressing the press after today's court session at the Skakel/Moxley trial. Mel Greer/GT Show More Show Less

23 of 39 Dorthy Moxley, left, smiles as she answers questions just after Michael Skakel was found guilty of the murder of Moxley's daughter, Martha. At right is Moxley's son, John Moxley. File Photo Show More Show Less

25 of 39 Dorthy Moxley, right, shakes hands with a law officer just before driving away from Superior Court in Norwalk for the final time after Michael Skakel was found quilty of the murder of Moxley's daughter, Martha Moxley 27 years ago in Greenwich. File Photo Show More Show Less

26 of 39 Michael Skakel, center, leaves Superior Court in Norwalk during an afternoon break in his murder trial. He is on trail for the in the murder of Martha Moxley. File Photo Show More Show Less

28 of 39 The media crowd outside the Stamford Criminal Court at the Michael Skakel arraignment. File Photo Show More Show Less

29 of 39 Martha Moxley's mother, Dorthy Moxley, looks up at John Moxley , Martha's brother, as they talked to reporters outside the Connecticut state Supreme Court in Hartford, Conn., Thursday, March 26, 2009 as they talked to reporters. They had attended as session of the court where arguments were presented as to why the 2002 conviction of Michael Skakel on murder charges in connection with the 1975 death of 15-year-old Martha Moxley should or should not be thrown out. File Photo Show More Show Less

31 of 39 Michael Sherman, outside Norwalk Superior Court, reacts to a guilty verdict for his client Michael Skakel in the Martha Moxley murder trial. File Photo Show More Show Less

32 of 39 Dorthy Moxley, mother of Martha Moxley, listens to testimony during a hearing at state Superior Court in Stamford, Conn. on Monday, April 23, 2007 to determine if Michael Skakel can get a new trial in his 2002 conviction for the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley in Greenwich, Conn. File Photo Show More Show Less

34 of 39 Judge Edward Karazin, Jr., refers to a documentduring a hearing at state Superior Court in Stamford, Conn. on Monday, April 23, 2007 to determine if Michael Skakel can get a new trial in his 2002 conviction for the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley in Greenwich, Conn. File Photo Show More Show Less

35 of 39 Michael Sherman testifies about his role as Michael Skakel's former defense attorney at Superior Court in Stamford, Conn., Friday, April 20, 2007. File Photo Show More Show Less

37 of 39 Michael Sherman, MIchael Skakel's former defense attorney, testifies about actions he took while building a defense for Skakel at Superior Court in Stamford, Conn., Friday, April 20, 2007. File Photo Show More Show Less

38 of 39 Vanity Fair magazine's photographer Harry Benson, left, known for his famous photo of The Beatles pillow fighting in a hotel room, takes a portrait of author Dominick Dunne outside the courthouse. File Photo Show More Show Less

Habitual liar. Capable of elaborate deception. Long neurological and psychiatric history. A history of temper outbursts.

All are phrases Michael Skakel and his defense team -- intent on freeing the Kennedy cousin and convicted murderer, even after a decade in jail -- are using to characterize Thomas Skakel, Michael's own brother, in a petition filed in state Superior Court in Rockville.

The issues about Thomas Skakel are just some of many that Michael Skakel's attorneys may raise in an April trial that will focus on the alleged ways in which Skakel's former attorney, Mickey Sherman, was ineffective in his defense of Skakel.

The 68-page petition document filed last June provides a glimpse at the wide sampling of arguments Skakel's attorneys may use.

Desperate to clear his name and get out of prison, Michael is painting a picture of a dishonest and disturbed older brother, one of several men named in the document as people who Sherman should have investigated more fully in connection with the 1975 murder of 15-year-old Martha Moxley.
Though the court document does not accuse of Thomas Skakel of the crime, it does question Sherman's failure to raise issues about him.

"Trial counsel failed to sufficiently investigate the circumstances relating to Thomas Skakel," the document states, "and the evidence of third party culpability in that he did not conduct any investigation into Thomas Skakel's revised explanation to investigators in the 1990s that he engaged in sexual activity with Martha Moxley as he walked her home that evening, that he was known to be a habitual liar capable of elaborate deception, that he lied to police officers, psychologists, therapists, consultants, family members, friends, lawyers, and investigators about his activities with Martha Moxley on October 30, 1975, and his activities that evening."

The document goes on to state that Thomas Skakel -- once a suspect in Moxley's murder -- had a "long neurological and psychiatric history," temper outbursts, and temporal lobe disease that could cause "disassociative (sic) states."

In raising issues about Sherman's performance, Skakel's lawyers could bring up the allegation that Sherman didn't fully investigate Skakel's brother Thomas as well as numerous other alleged shortcomings. The arguments against Sherman involve a police composite sketch, investigator profile reports about other possible suspects, and investigations into other people related to the case, including the state's star witness.

In the end, Skakel's defense will have to show Sherman's counsel had a negative effect on the outcome of the 2002 trial.

Still plagued by Skakel's 2002 conviction for the brutal slaying nearly four decades ago, the Skakel family now finds itself approaching yet another legal battle in the case.

The family is saying the trial is about pursuing the legal avenues to set Skakel free. Success at the April 15 trial in Rockville could mean freedom for Skakel, 52, who is imprisoned at McDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield.

"This is about our brother, Michael, who was wrongly convicted more than 10 years ago for a crime he did not commit," the Skakel family said in a statement to Greenwich Time. "It is time to correct this horrific injustice."

When asked for their reaction to Michael's inclusion of his brother Thomas as one of the men who should have been more aggressively investigated in connection with the murder, the family declined to comment.

John Moxley, Martha's brother, said Friday he doesn't believe Michael Skakel is fingering his brother for the murder in raising the issues about him and Sherman.

"He's not saying Tommy did it," Moxley said Friday, adding that he believes Skakel's defense is pointing out Sherman was ineffective because he didn't fully investigate Thomas Skakel's possible involvement.
"I think this is a smart move on (the defense's) part," Moxley said. "I can see why they would say it. I think it's pretty clever on their part."

Moxley added that he firmly believes Michael Skakel is guilty and that Skakel's defense, in raising some of the issues in the document, is "grasping at straws."

Skakel will have to clear a "high hurdle" to succeed at the April trial, said Moxley, who does not believe Sherman was incompetent in his defense of Skakel.

In challenging Sherman's handling of the case, Skakel's attorneys, Hubert Santos and Hope Seeley, are claiming numerous examples of ineffectiveness.

They are alleging third party culpability issues about Tony Bryant, a former classmate of Skakel's at Brunswick School and the cousin of basketball star Kobe Bryant. The allegation is that Sherman ignored information about Tony Bryant.

Also included in the petition is a claim that Sherman did not make use of a composite sketch of a suspect observed by Charles Morganti Jr., a security guard in Belle Haven, where the Skakels and Moxleys lived at the time of the murder. The sketch, which was prepared by police and depicts someone who strongly resembles Skakel family tutor Kenneth Littleton, was "the single most important piece of exculpatory evidence in this case," according to the document. The sketch would have assisted Skakel's defense if it had been shown to the jury, the document states.

Sherman also should have made timely requests for profile reports by John Solomon, a lead investigator in the case, about Littleton and Thomas Skakel, the document states. Sherman requested the reports during cross examination, the court denied his request, and Sherman failed to renew his request before the end of the trial or in a motion for a new trial, according to the document.

The Skakel family said Sherman should have looked more closely at other suspects.

"Ever since Michael was convicted -- and even before -- whenever the name of Ken Littleton, Adolph Hasbrouck, Burr Tinsley or Tony Bryant is mentioned, the media ignores it as 'oh, that's old news,' " the Skakels said in a statement to Greenwich Time. "If Sherman did his job and peeled the onion back on these four, Michael would not be where he is today. Those guys are the real smoking guns in this judicial travesty: Littleton was given immunity even after he failed a lie detector test. And Hasbrouck, Tinsley and Bryant plead the Fifth."

In an interview with an investigator, Tony Bryant implicated two of his friends, Adolph Hasbrouck and Burt Tinsley, in Moxley's murder.

Skakel's petition also argues Sherman did not effectively investigate and impeach Gregory Coleman, the state's star witness and the only witness to say without equivocation that Skakel admitted he killed Moxley. The document argues witnesses should have been introduced to show that Coleman, a classmate of Skakel's at the Elan School in Maine, testified falsely.

The document alleges numerous other ways in which Sherman should have better handled witnesses for both the defense and prosecution.

Sherman has repeatedly said that he stands by his defense of Skakel and believes Skakel is innocent.

Other Skakel claims include the allegation that Sherman was not reasonably competent during jury selection, did not consult with experts about a crime scene reconstruction or present expert testimony to support Skakel's defense, and did not investigate or sufficiently interview a number of other witnesses. It also argues Sherman should have challenged the admission of testimony by noted forensic pathologist Henry Lee on the grounds that it was either speculative, not having a sufficient foundation, not relevant, more prejudicial than probative, or improper expert testimony.

The document also claims Sherman had "significant financial problems" that may have affected his ability or desire to conduct necessary investigations and retain experts.

Attorneys for Skakel will not be able to challenge every aspect of Sherman's defense, however.
Superior Court Judge Samuel Sferrazza threw out two of Skakel's claims in a March 1 decision. Issues about closing arguments in the 2002 trial and the case's transfer from juvenile court were previously upheld and could not be argued again, he ruled.

Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney Susann Gill, who did not appeal Sferrazza's decision, said Santos will be limited to arguing ineffective assistance of counsel issues at the April trial. She declined further comment.

The trial is not a complete retrial, and will not include all of the issues previously raised in Skakel's case, she said.


Michael Skakel: Brother, Thomas, lied about Moxley

1 of 3 In this Oct. 24, 2012, file photo, Michael Skakel listens during a parole hearing at McDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Conn. Prosecutors want a judge to dismiss Michael Skakel's latest challenge of his 2002 murder conviction, saying the Kennedy cousin's claim that his trial attorney did a poor job should have been raised in an earlier appeal and that many of the issues he cites were previously rejected, Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, Pool, File) Jessica Hill/Associated Press Show More Show Less

2 of 3 Thomas Skakel, the older brother of Michael Skakel, leaving the Norwalk courthouse during Michael's murder trial in 2002. Before Michael was charged, Thomas was considered the lead suspect in the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley. Thomas, who was 17 at the time of her death, was the last person seen with Moxley the night she was murdered. Mel Greer/GT Show More Show Less

Habitual liar. Capable of elaborate deception. Long neurological and psychiatric history. A history of temper outbursts.

All are phrases Michael Skakel and his defense team -- intent on freeing the Kennedy cousin and convicted murderer, even after a decade in jail -- are using to characterize Thomas Skakel, Michael's own brother, in a petition filed in state Superior Court in Rockville.

The issues about Thomas Skakel are just some of many that Michael Skakel's attorneys may raise in an April trial that will focus on the alleged ways in which Skakel's former attorney, Mickey Sherman, was ineffective in his defense of Skakel.

The 68-page petition document filed last June provides a glimpse at the wide sampling of arguments Skakel's attorneys may use.

Desperate to clear his name and get out of prison, Michael is painting a picture of a dishonest and disturbed older brother, one of several men named in the document as people who Sherman should have investigated more fully in connection with the 1975 murder of 15-year-old Martha Moxley.

Though the court document does not accuse of Thomas Skakel of the crime, it does question Sherman's failure to raise issues about him.

"Trial counsel failed to sufficiently investigate the circumstances relating to Thomas Skakel," the document states, "and the evidence of third party culpability in that he did not conduct any investigation into Thomas Skakel's revised explanation to investigators in the 1990s that he engaged in sexual activity with Martha Moxley as he walked her home that evening, that he was known to be a habitual liar capable of elaborate deception, that he lied to police officers, psychologists, therapists, consultants, family members, friends, lawyers, and investigators about his activities with Martha Moxley on October 30, 1975, and his activities that evening."

The document goes on to state that Thomas Skakel -- once a suspect in Moxley's murder -- had a "long neurological and psychiatric history," temper outbursts, and temporal lobe disease that could cause "disassociative (sic) states."

In raising issues about Sherman's performance, Skakel's lawyers could bring up the allegation that Sherman didn't fully investigate Skakel's brother Thomas as well as numerous other alleged shortcomings. The arguments against Sherman involve a police composite sketch, investigator profile reports about other possible suspects, and investigations into other people related to the case, including the state's star witness.

In the end, Skakel's defense will have to show Sherman's counsel had a negative effect on the outcome of the 2002 trial.

Still plagued by Skakel's 2002 conviction for the brutal slaying nearly four decades ago, the Skakel family now finds itself approaching yet another legal battle in the case.

The family is saying the trial is about pursuing the legal avenues to set Skakel free. Success at the April 15 trial in Rockville could mean freedom for Skakel, 52, who is imprisoned at McDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield.

"This is about our brother, Michael, who was wrongly convicted more than 10 years ago for a crime he did not commit," the Skakel family said in a statement to Greenwich Time. "It is time to correct this horrific injustice."

When asked for their reaction to Michael's inclusion of his brother Thomas as one of the men who should have been more aggressively investigated in connection with the murder, the family declined to comment.

John Moxley, Martha's brother, said Friday he doesn't believe Michael Skakel is fingering his brother for the murder in raising the issues about him and Sherman.

"He's not saying Tommy did it," Moxley said Friday, adding that he believes Skakel's defense is pointing out Sherman was ineffective because he didn't fully investigate Thomas Skakel's possible involvement.

"I think this is a smart move on (the defense's) part," Moxley said. "I can see why they would say it. I think it's pretty clever on their part."

Moxley added that he firmly believes Michael Skakel is guilty and that Skakel's defense, in raising some of the issues in the document, is "grasping at straws."

Skakel will have to clear a "high hurdle" to succeed at the April trial, said Moxley, who does not believe Sherman was incompetent in his defense of Skakel.

In challenging Sherman's handling of the case, Skakel's attorneys, Hubert Santos and Hope Seeley, are claiming numerous examples of ineffectiveness.

They are alleging third party culpability issues about Tony Bryant, a former classmate of Skakel's at Brunswick School and the cousin of basketball star Kobe Bryant. The allegation is that Sherman ignored information about Tony Bryant.

Also included in the petition is a claim that Sherman did not make use of a composite sketch of a suspect observed by Charles Morganti Jr., a security guard in Belle Haven, where the Skakels and Moxleys lived at the time of the murder. The sketch, which was prepared by police and depicts someone who strongly resembles Skakel family tutor Kenneth Littleton, was "the single most important piece of exculpatory evidence in this case," according to the document. The sketch would have assisted Skakel's defense if it had been shown to the jury, the document states.

Sherman also should have made timely requests for profile reports by John Solomon, a lead investigator in the case, about Littleton and Thomas Skakel, the document states. Sherman requested the reports during cross examination, the court denied his request, and Sherman failed to renew his request before the end of the trial or in a motion for a new trial, according to the document.

The Skakel family said Sherman should have looked more closely at other suspects.

"Ever since Michael was convicted -- and even before -- whenever the name of Ken Littleton, Adolph Hasbrouck, Burr Tinsley or Tony Bryant is mentioned, the media ignores it as `oh, that's old news,' " the Skakels said in a statement to Greenwich Time. "If Sherman did his job and peeled the onion back on these four, Michael would not be where he is today. Those guys are the real smoking guns in this judicial travesty: Littleton was given immunity even after he failed a lie detector test. And Hasbrouck, Tinsley and Bryant plead the Fifth."

In an interview with an investigator, Tony Bryant implicated two of his friends, Adolph Hasbrouck and Burt Tinsley, in Moxley's murder.

Skakel's petition also argues Sherman did not effectively investigate and impeach Gregory Coleman, the state's star witness and the only witness to say without equivocation that Skakel admitted he killed Moxley. The document argues witnesses should have been introduced to show that Coleman, a classmate of Skakel's at the Elan School in Maine, testified falsely.

The document alleges numerous other ways in which Sherman should have better handled witnesses for both the defense and prosecution.

Sherman has repeatedly said that he stands by his defense of Skakel and believes Skakel is innocent.

Other Skakel claims include the allegation that Sherman was not reasonably competent during jury selection, did not consult with experts about a crime scene reconstruction or present expert testimony to support Skakel's defense, and did not investigate or sufficiently interview a number of other witnesses. It also argues Sherman should have challenged the admission of testimony by noted forensic pathologist Henry Lee on the grounds that it was either speculative, not having a sufficient foundation, not relevant, more prejudicial than probative, or improper expert testimony.

The document also claims Sherman had "significant financial problems" that may have affected his ability or desire to conduct necessary investigations and retain experts.

Attorneys for Skakel will not be able to challenge every aspect of Sherman's defense, however.

Superior Court Judge Samuel Sferrazza threw out two of Skakel's claims in a March 1 decision. Issues about closing arguments in the 2002 trial and the case's transfer from juvenile court were previously upheld and could not be argued again, he ruled.

Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney Susann Gill, who did not appeal Sferrazza's decision, said Santos will be limited to arguing ineffective assistance of counsel issues at the April trial. She declined further comment.

The trial is not a complete retrial, and will not include all of the issues previously raised in Skakel's case, she said.

A message left with Hubert Santos, Skakel's attorney, was not returned this week.


Michael Skakel's Attorney Claims Undiscovered Evidence Could Clear the Convicted Murderer

The attorney representing Michael Skakel - the Kennedy family cousin convicted of murdering Connecticut teen Martha Moxley - tells PEOPLE he believes there may be previously undiscovered evidence that could clear his client.

Skakel was convicted of Moxley’s murder in 2002 and sentenced to 20 years-to-life in prison. He was Moxley’s neighbor in Greenwich, Connecticut, when the 15-year-old girl was bludgeoned and stabbed to death with the shaft of a broken golf club in October 1975.

According to Skakel’s lawyer, Stephan Seeger, a golf club handle was later allegedly recovered from a residence owned by Skakel’s aunt and uncle, about seven miles from the crime scene.

Seeger says he has not located the handle in question and only recently heard claims of its existence, but he is seeking depositions to learn more. He did not specify in what way the handle might clear his client - only that it could prove the murder weapon didn’t come from the Skakels.

The club handle was allegedly discovered by a groundskeeper and his daughter. Believing it might be evidence, they brought the snapped shaft to police in Greenwich in 1999, Seeger claims.

He contends that, despite the murder conviction, Skakel was actually at his aunt and uncle’s home watching a Monty Python movie with a cousin on the night Moxley was killed.

Seeger says a Connecticut-based lawyer contacted him late last year about the alleged golf club shaft’s existence. The unnamed lawyer also provided him with the names of the groundskeeper, his daughter and a lawyer who once worked for Skakel’s aunt and uncle.

Seeger says the groundskeeper passed away on March 31, at 91, but he still wants to depose the daughter as well as the former attorney for the aunt and uncle.

Seeger has asked Superior Court Judge Gary White to issue subpoenas for these people to provide depositions on the matter, PEOPLE confirms. He says he wants as much information on the alleged golf club handle as possible.

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“We are trying to find this missing evidence,” says Seeger, who insists there isn’t even an official police report reflecting the groundskeeper’s visit to police in Greenwich.

Neither investigators nor Skakel’s cousin’s family immediately returned PEOPLE’s messages seeking comment the other parties Seeger identified could not immediately be reached.

But “even the greenest of police officers in 1999 would have found the report of a golf club shaft being found at the [aunt and uncle’s] residence to be ultra significant,” Seeger argues. “That item should have been inventoried right away - and at a minimum, there should be a police report saying two people came in with this item, when they found it and where.”

“There are mountains of documents associated with this case and not one sentence written about this golf club handle,” Seeger continues. “That is exceptionally odd.”

In 2013, Connecticut’s Superior Court determined Skakel’s first trial lawyer failed to represent him adequately in court and subsequently ordered a new trial for the 56-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel.

In a split four-three decision issued Dec. 30, the state’s Supreme Court determined the lower court erred in its 2013 decision and reinstated Skakel’s conviction.

Speaking to PEOPLE last year, Moxley’s mother said she still thought Skakel was guilty: “I believe Michael is the one who swung the club. It has been 41 years since Martha died. When you gather all this information for that long a time, you get to a point where you put it all together and it just fits.”

Skakel spent 11 years behind bars after his conviction. Today, he is living with a relative in Bedford, New York.

Seeger tells PEOPLE he isn’t pointing fingers about the new claims over the golf club handle.

“My hope is always that there has been an oversight and that justice can be served in light of this new evidence,” he says. “It doesn’t take a genius to put the pieces of the puzzle together.”


Murder and Justice Bonus: Remembering Martha Moxley

In conversation with Dorthy Moxley, "Murder and Justice: The Case of Martha Moxley" host and former federal prosecutor Laura Coates discusses how Dorthy has coped with her daughter's murder and its aftermath. Martha was killed outside her family's home in Greenwich, Connecticut, on October 30, 1975. To this day, it is still unknown what happened to the young woman.

A murdered teen. A quiet Connecticut town. A suspect related to the most famous dynasty in American history. It sounds like the description of a teen soap opera, but it’s actually the description of one of the most perplexing and infamous murder cases in recent American history: the death of Martha Moxley.

In 1975, 15-year-old Moxley was found dead in her Greenwich, Connecticut backyard. No suspects would be charged for decades, until her neighbor Michael Skakel, also 15 at the time of the murder and the nephew of Robert F. Kennedy, was convicted of the crime — before eventually having his conviction overturned.

Moxley’s dairy from the time shows that Skakel did have some sort of relationship with the teen.

During Michael Skakel’s 2002 trial for Moxley’s murder, prosecutors had the slain teenager’s diary entries read aloud to the jury. In several of the excerpts, Moxley wrote about her friends, her neighbor Michael, and his older brother, Thomas “Tommy” Skakel, 17.

While Michael’s defense team claimed the diary passages had no connection to the case and would only prejudice the jury against their client, prosecutors argued the entries revealed a motive for Moxley’s murder.

"The victim's relationship with the [Skakel] brothers, her annoyance with Michael, and ambivalence toward Tom's advances, are relevant to motive… " prosecutor Susann Gill wrote in court papers . "The state's evidence will show that the defendant has made admissions indicating his romantic interest in the victim, and has also stated that she rejected him the night she was killed . [That] triggered the murder.”

A judge ultimately ruled the diary entries were admissible evidence, but he did note Moxley’s writings were hearsay.

The excerpts, many of which were written in the months before her murder, reveal how Moxley felt about her neighbors and their desire for her attention.

In a passage from September 12, 1975, Moxley reflects on an evening she spent with friends and the Skakels: “Dear Diary, Today was nothing extra special at school. Peter was being his usual self . Me, Jackie, Michael, Tom, Hope, Maureen & Andra went driving in Tom's car. I drove a little then & I was practically sitting on Tom's lap 'cause I was only steering. He kept putting his hand on my knee . I drove some more & Margie & I kept yelling out the sunroof & then we went to Friendly's & Michael treated me & he got me a double but I only wanted a single so I threw the top scoop out the window. The I was driving again & Tom put his arm around me. He kept doing stuff like that. Jesus if Peter ever found out I would be dead! I think Jackie really likes Michael & I think maybe he likes her (maybe because he was drunk, but I don't know).”

On September 15, 1975, Moxley recalled hanging out in an RV on the Skakel property with Jackie and Michael. She wrote that Michael told her he “doesn’t like Jackie but he leads her on so much I can’t believe it!”

A few days later, Moxley journaled about a confrontation she had with Michael about her interactions with Tommy:

“Michael was so totally out of it that he was being a real asshole in his actions & words. He kept telling me that I was leading Tom on when I don't like him (except as a friend). I said, well how about you and Jackie? You keep telling me that you don't like her & you're all over her. He doesn't understand that he can be nice to her without hanging all over her. Michael jumps to conclusions. I can't be friends w/ Tom, just because I talk to him, it doesn't mean I like him. I really have to stop going over there."

A little more than a month after this entry, Moxley was bludgeoned and stabbed to death with a golf club, which was traced back to a set owned by the Skakel family. According to the Hartford Courant , the assailant attacked Moxley so violently the club’s metal shaft snapped. It was then driven through her neck. Moxley’s pants and underwear had been pulled down around her ankles, but there was no sign of sexual assault, reported The New York Times.

Police theorized Moxley had been hit in the head from behind as she walked up the driveway to her home on the evening of on October 30, 1975. Her body was then dragged to her backyard and left below a pine tree, where she was found the following day, reported the Hartford Courant .

In 2002, Michael Skakel was found guilty of murdering Martha Moxley and sentenced to 20 years in prison. His conviction was vacated by the Connecticut Supreme Court in 2018 after a series of appeals. Skakel maintains his innocence, and the state has yet to announce if it will retry Skakel for Martha’s murder.

To learn more about the infamous Greenwich slaying, watch “Murder and Justice: The Case of Martha Moxley,” a three-part event series airing Saturdays at 7/6c on Oxygen.


Judge Unseals Report That Skakel Jury Never Got To See

Nearly 10 years before Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel went to trial for the 1975 murder of Greenwich teen Martha Moxley, police and prosecutors asked a forensic psychiatrist to examine another suspect in the case, Skakel's tutor Kenneth Littleton.

Littleton agreed to the exam, hoping to "get the monkey off his back once and for all," Dr. Kathy A. Morall told Greenwich Police Department detectives in a Jan. 21, 1993, letter.

But Morall's exam did hardly that.

"The examination of behavior following the crime strongly points to Mr. Littleton," Morall wrote in a 27-page report recently unsealed by Superior Court Judge Thomas Bishop but never disclosed to the jury that convicted Skakel of murder in 2002. "Not only does he engage in violence, much of it is directed towards women. His strange and bizarre behavior is quickly evident during the summer of 1976. … His preoccupation with the crime and his 'theories' of how it occurred would typically suggest involvement or guilt."

Revelations about Morall's report surfaced Friday on what was supposed to be the last day of Skakel's hearing in his petition for a writ of habeas corpus in which he is seeking a new trial on grounds that his trial lawyer, Mickey Sherman, did a poor job defending him.

Bishop unsealed the report, allowing defense lawyers to read it for the first time. On Tuesday, they amended Skakel's latest petition to include claims that Sherman should have tried to make more of an effort to get the report to use as potential evidence in his failed to attempt to win Skakel's acquittal.

Skakel, 52, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, the widow of former U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, is serving a prison sentence of 20 years to life for Moxley's murder. Moxley was beaten to death in Greenwich's wealthy Belle Haven neighborhood. She and Skakel, both 15 at the time, were neighbors.

In Skakel's latest bid for freedom, he is claiming ineffective assistance of Sherman and is seeking a new trial. If Bishop rules in Skakel's favor, prosecutors would have to decide whether they want to try the case again. Testimony in the two-week hearing ended Tuesday. It could be weeks and possibly months before Bishop makes his ruling.

On Tuesday, Skakel lawyer Hubert J. Santos called Michael Fitzpatrick back to the witness stand to ask him about Morall's report. Fitzpatrick, past president of the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, testified last week that Sherman failed to pursue information that might have supported his client and that Sherman made mistakes that helped the state.

Fitzpatrick said Morall's report would have bolstered Sherman's defense at trial that Littleton, not Skakel, was Moxley's killer. The report outlines Littleton's struggles with mental illness and drugs and alcohol, his criminal trial on theft charges, overwhelming sexual feelings, and violence against women. At one point, he sought treatment at a Massachusetts mental health facility and was prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, the report says. Fitzpatrick said the image belied one he believed jurors saw of Littleton at trial as an educator and a counselor.

"The Kenneth Littleton the jury saw is not the Kenneth Littleton reflected in this document," Fitzpatrick said. "Not even a mere shadow."

Littleton told Morall, according to the report, of how he preferred a "blond, blue-eyed, all-American beauty" over a "cute" girl or ones resembling the actress Sophia Loren.

"That would be Martha Moxley," Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick said a "reasonably competent" defense attorney would have worked to get the report admitted as evidence or would have tried to put Morall on the witness stand.

But when recalled to the witness stand Tuesday by the state, Sherman said that at trial he offered testimony that pointed the finger at Littleton as Moxley's killer, though the trial judge questioned the relevance of Littleton's psychiatric history and restricted testimony on it.

When asked Tuesday by Fairfield County Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney Susann E. Gill if there was anything in the newly disclosed report that he "wished" he had at trial, Sherman replied, "Frankly, no."

Sherman said he was aware at the time of trial of Morall's 1993 exam of Littleton but did not call Morall as a witness. Jurors did see videotape excerpts of Morall interviewing Littleton.

"I just didn't think she was an effective interrogator," Sherman said.

In the latest hearing, Littleton was not called to the witness stand, though he did testify at Skakel's widely publicized trial.

Littleton's lawyer, Eugene J. Riccio, insisted Tuesday that Littleton had nothing to do with the murder of Moxley.

"There has never been and never will be a credible shred of evidence that he was involved," Riccio said in a telephone interview. "It's been a very torturous and tragic road in many ways for Mr. Littleton for many years. It essentially destroyed his life and caused him significant damage."

Riccio declined to elaborate and would not confirm where Littleton currently resides.

Littleton's name has surfaced several times at the latest hearing, including during testimony about a police sketch of a man walking in the area of Moxley's home the night she was killed. Santos says the composite drawing should have been used at trial as exculpatory evidence by Sherman.

When shown the sketch at the hearing, Sherman said it looked like "Kenneth Littleton or someone else." Sherman said having the sketch at trial "would have been helpful."


MURDER IN GREENWICH: THE VERDICT Skakel Is Convicted 27 Years After Girl's Murder

Nearly 27 years after Martha Moxley was bludgeoned to death with a golf club outside her family's home in a gated enclave of Greenwich, a jury today convicted Michael C. Skakel of her murder, ending a trial clouded by wavering memories that played out amid a swirl of wealth and celebrity.

Mr. Skakel, 41, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, faces a sentence of up to life in prison. He and Miss Moxley were 15-year-old friends and neighbors when she died. During the three-and-a-half-week trial, the jury was offered no direct physical evidence tying Mr. Skakel to the crime but heard substantial testimony about incriminating statements and erratic behavior by him over the years.

The jury, in State Superior Court here, announced that it had reached a verdict just after 10:30 a.m., shortly after starting its fourth day of deliberations. Mr. Skakel appeared stunned as the jury foreman pronounced the verdict in the packed, silent courtroom. He stood at the defense table, his face flushed, his lips pursed.

As the clerk polled each juror individually, the victim's mother, Dorthy Moxley, and her son, John, clutched each other in their front-row seats, astonished smiles on their faces, tears in their eyes.

Moments later, Judge John F. Kavanewsky Jr. ordered Mr. Skakel handcuffed. A brother, David Skakel, reached for him, but was pushed back by a court marshal.

Outside the courthouse, Mrs. Moxley faced a huge encampment of reporters and television crews and said she had prayed this morning in anticipation of a verdict. ''My prayer started out, 𧷪r Lord, again today like I have been doing for 27 years, I'm praying that I can find justice for Martha.' You know this whole thing was about Martha,'' she said, adding: ''This is Martha's day. This is truly Martha's day.''

Behind her, on a courthouse wall, someone had posted a sign: ''Justice at Last.''

Michael Sherman, the defense lawyer, vowed to appeal on numerous grounds and insisted on Mr. Skakel's innocence.

''We are bitterly disappointed,'' Mr. Sherman said. ''There is no way to hide it. This is certainly the most upsetting verdict I have ever had or will ever have in my life. But I will tell you that as long as there is a breath in my body, this case is not over as far as I'm concerned.''

The verdict was a huge victory for the lead prosecutor, Jonathan C. Benedict, and his co-counsels, Christopher Morano and Susann Gill, who had seemed to be struggling until Mr. Benedict's dramatic closing arguments on Monday. It was also a triumph for Frank Garr, the lead investigator on the case since 1995, who doggedly pursued Michael Skakel after decades in which his predecessors focused on other suspects.

Mr. Benedict said, ''It's nice to say once in a while that justice delayed doesn't have to be justice denied.''

At one point, the judge asked lawyers on both sides if they had anything to add before he excused the jury. None of the lawyers wanted to speak, but Mr. Skakel, who did not testify in his own defense at trial, blurted out, ''Iɽ like to say something.'' The judge cut him off, saying tersely, ''No, sir.'' The judge also denied Mr. Sherman's request that Mr. Skakel remain free on bail.

In determining a sentence, Judge Kavanewsky has extraordinary circumstances to consider: a crime committed when the defendant was a 15-year-old boy but for which he was not arrested until 25 years later. Mr. Skakel was initially charged as a juvenile but was ultimately tried as an adult. Under state law as it existed in 1975, which the judge must follow, Mr. Skakel faces a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life. Sentencing is set for July 19.

To reach their verdict, the jurors had to overcome a total lack of direct physical evidence tying Mr. Skakel to the killing. Despite the presence of the golf club, investigators found no fingerprints, no semen, no bloody trail leading to a suspect. But the judge clearly instructed the jury that the law permits a conviction on circumstantial evidence.

A juror and two alternate jurors said they were convinced of Mr. Skakel's guilt after the prosecution's closing argument on Monday, in part because Mr. Skakel had made statements placing himself at the murder scene. They also said they did not believe his alibi, or the Skakel family members, including two brothers and a cousin, who testified in support of it.

Mr. Skakel's brothers Rushton Jr. and John, and a cousin, James Dowdle, all testified that they could recall little about the night of the murder, other than that Mr. Skakel had gone with them to watch television at the Dowdle home.

''This is probably the single biggest thing in their lives as teenagers,'' said one alternate juror, Anne T. Layton. ''There are some things you just remember.''

Ultimately, however, prosecutors pieced together enough of the puzzle for jurors to place Mr. Skakel at the crime scene and give him both motive and opportunity. The evidence showed that he had unrequited romantic feelings for Miss Moxley and ready access to the murder weapon.

Martha Moxley, a cute, popular teenager, was killed outside her family's home in the gated Belle Haven section of Greenwich on Oct. 30, 1975. It was the night before Halloween, commonly referred to as mischief night, an occasion when teenagers throughout the neighborhood engaged in raucous tomfoolery, spraying shaving cream and hurling eggs and toilet paper.

Forensics experts testified that Miss Moxley was disabled by perhaps just one blow from the golf club -- a Toney Penna 6-iron from a set that had belonged to Mr. Skakel's mother. But she was then struck with such force that the steel club broke into pieces, the club head and a portion of shaft flying more than 100 feet away. Another piece of the shaft was used to stab her through the neck.

When Miss Moxley did not return home that night, her mother began calling friends and neighbors, including the Skakels, who lived just across the road. Still in search of her daughter the next morning, Mrs. Moxley knocked on the door of the Skakel home. It was answered by Michael Skakel.

In a taped conversation in 1997 with the ghostwriter of an autobiography that he had hoped to write, Mr. Skakel said that he was drunk, high on marijuana and sexually aroused on the night of the murder and that he climbed a tree in the Moxley yard, where he masturbated, trying to peep into Martha Moxley's bedroom.

He said he panicked at the sight of Mrs. Moxley. ''I woke up to Mrs. Moxley saying, 'Michael, have you seen Martha?' '' Mr. Skakel said on the tape.

'ɺnd I was, like, still high from the night before, a little drunk,'' Mr. Skakel continued on the tape. ''I was, like, 'Oh my God, did they see me last night?' '' Although Mr. Skakel never confessed in the taped conversation, prosecutors insisted that it was clear evidence of his guilt, that his panic was not over whether someone had seen him masturbating but whether someone had seen him commit the murder.

The defense, however, insisted that Mr. Skakel had an alibi. He was at a cousin's home, miles from the murder scene, watching ''Monty Python's Flying Circus'' on television precisely from just after 9:30 m. until after 11 p.m. Dr. Joseph A. Jachimczyk, a Texas medical examiner hired by the Greenwich police to help determine the time of Miss Moxley's death, found that she was probably killed at 10 p.m.

By far the most damaging evidence against Mr. Skakel came from his own mouth: the taped conversation with the ghostwriter, Richard Hoffman.

Ms. Layton, the alternate juror, said of Mr. Skakel: ''He was trying to set up a scenario where he could have been in the tree. I think what he really did was incriminate himself.''

But two of Mr. Skakel's brothers criticized the jury's decision.

One, David Skakel, read a statement that he had prepared in expectation of an acquittal.

''Martha's short life and the manner of her death should never be forgotten,'' he said. 'ɿor our family, grieving has coincided with accusation. Michael is innocent. I know this because I know Michael, like only a brother does.''

He continued, ''You may want finality to this tragedy, and our family wants the same, as much as anyone. But truth is more important than closure.''

Lawyers on both sides faced a heavy burden in trying a case so old. At least three important witnesses died before the trial got under way. Testimony from earlier proceedings given by one deceased witness, Gregory Coleman, a former classmate of Mr. Skakel's at a school for troubled youths in Maine, was read to the jury, prompting complaints from the defense that it could not cross-examine a dead man.

But the living witnesses also presented challenges. On both sides, many could no longer clearly recall the events of October 1975. Quite a number of witnesses were former students at Elan, the school for troubled youths in Maine, and went on to troubled adulthoods.

Mr. Skakel, now a divorced father of one, was arrested and charged in January 2000. After running up against numerous dead-ends in the 1970's, the investigation languished through the 1980's and was revived by the Bridgeport state's attorney's office in 1991. For many years, the driving force was Dorthy Moxley, who never stopped insisting on justice for her daughter.

After the verdict, John Moxley, 43, described hearing the foreman pronounce Mr. Skakel guilty. ''I think my heart stopped beating,'' Mr. Moxley said. ''It was just incredible. I looked at that jury, and I really felt that it was a jury of our peers.''