JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, Associated Press
STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut judge ordered prosecutors Wednesday to preserve all evidence as Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel awaits a new trial in his murder case.
Stamford Superior Court Judge Gary White made the ruling after Skakel’s attorney sought to preserve hairs found at the crime scene.
Skakel, the nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel, was freed from prison last year after a judge ruled his trial attorney failed to adequately represent him in 2002 when he was convicted of fatally bludgeoning Martha Moxley in Greenwich when they were both 15.
Asked if he was spending time with his family, Skakel said as he arrived for the hearing, “much as I can.” Asked if he was enjoying his time out of prison, he said, “I wouldn’t say enjoying.”
Prosecutors are appealing the decision granting Skakel a new trial.
Prosecutor John Smriga argued that it was too soon to be arguing about evidence while the appeal was pending.
Skakel’s attorney, Stephen Seeger, agreed to withdraw for now a motion to suppress audiotapes seized from ghostwriter Richard Hoffman for a memoir, but he said it was important to preserve the hairs for future testing. He asked the judge to ask the state if the hairs still exist, but White declined.
Skakel’s attorneys have argued that the discovery at the crime scene of an unidentified hair with African American characteristics and an unidentified Asian hair was “highly corroborative” of a claim by a former classmate of Skakel’s who implicated two friends in the murder. A judge ruled that claim was not credible.
Forensic experts testified at Skakel’s trial about the discovery of two hairs on sheets used to wrap Moxley’s body. It’s unclear whose hair it was, but prosecutors have said it’s unclear where the sheets came from and that the hair could have come from someone who worked in the neighborhood.
Seeger said the hairs will be used by the defense if there is a new trial.
“Michael Skakel didn’t commit this crime,” Seeger said outside court with Skakel standing next to him. “He’s innocent. A new trial will prove that.”
Moxley’s brother John and mother, Dorthy, said when Skakel was released last year that they continue to believe Skakel killed Martha and are confident he would be convicted again at a new trial.
The judge also told the two sides to try to reach an agreement on the return of items seized during the investigation that are not of evidentiary value. Seeger said he believes those items include photos of Skakel when he was 15.
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