Kennedy cousin Skakel wins new trial in 1975 killing in appeal over attorney

Associated Press
Michael Skakel, right, talks with Jessica Santos, one of his defense attorneys, during Skakel's appeal trial at Rockville Superior Court in Vernon, Conn., on Thursday, April 25, 2013.   Skakel launched a barrage of criticism Thursday against the attorney who represented him at his murder trial, saying he failed to track down key witnesses while having fun and basking in the limelight.  Skakel is serving 20 years to life in prison for the 1975 golf club bludgeoning of Martha Moxley in Greenwich when they were both 15 years old. Skakel argues trial attorney Michael Sherman got caught up in the limelight of the high-profile case and failed to prepare. (AP Photo/The Stamford Advocate, Jason Rearick, Pool)

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A U.S. judge has granted a new trial for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, ruling his attorney failed to adequately represent him when he was convicted in 2002 of killing his neighbour in 1975.

The ruling, which was obtained by The Associated Press, marks a dramatic reversal after years of unsuccessful appeals by Skakel. He is the 52-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy, and is serving 20 years to life.

Skakel argued trial attorney Michael Sherman was negligent in defending him when he was convicted in the bludgeoning of Martha Moxley with a golf club when they were 15. His current attorney called the case weak.

Bridgeport State's Attorney John Smriga said prosecutors will appeal.

Prosecutors have contended that the verdict was based on compelling evidence.

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