Skakel seeks sentence reduction for Conn. murder

January 23, 2012 - 8:35 PM

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel plans to seek a reduction in his sentence of 20 years to life in prison for the killing of his neighbor when they were teenagers in 1975.

Skakel, a nephew of Robert Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy, is scheduled to appear Tuesday before a three-judge panel in Middletown that reviews sentences.

Skakel was sentenced in 2002 after he was convicted of bludgeoning 15-year-old Martha Moxley to death with a golf club in wealthy Greenwich. Moxley's brother and mother are expected to attend the hearing.

Prosecutor Susann Gill said she would argue the sentence was appropriate.

Skakel's attorney, Hope Seeley, said she would focus on the fact he was only 15 at the time of the crime. She said he has helped a lot of people through Alcoholics Anonymous and the life he has lived shows the public doesn't need to be protected from him.

Skakel has tried unsuccessfully for years to get his conviction overturned. The state Supreme Court ruled in 2010 against Skakel's bid for a new trial, saying a claim implicating two other men in the killing wasn't credible.

Skakel blasted prosecutors and his former attorney during a court hearing last year and insisted on his innocence. He spoke by video conference from prison as part of an appeal claiming his trial attorney, Michael Sherman, was incompetent.

Skakel, who has a son, said prosecutors "want me here for the rest of my life for something I didn't do."

"They have disparaged me for the past 10 years, deprived me of my liberty and my child, my freedom, my good reputation, and I don't understand their motivation in trying to take my attorneys from me," Skakel said.

He said he was shocked once he obtained new attorneys after his conviction to realize "how absolutely incompetent Mr. Sherman was in everything he did."

Sherman has said he did all he could to prevent Skakel's conviction.