But Admitting That Would Not Sell News
A man named Michael Skakel from a wealthy
Connecticut family was convicted of
murdering a young girl. Not particularly
newsworthy but for the fact that he was the nephew of a woman married to a
Kennedy. And since all things bad that
have anything to do with Kennedy’s must receive front page attention, this case
did. And it continues to do so, albeit for the wrong reasons.
The wrong reason the case receives attention is that the media keeps referring to Skakel as a ‘Kennedy Cousin’. No, technically he's a cousin but he’s not a Kennedy. Michael was charged and ultimately convicted of murder. His aunt married Robert Kennedy. Wow, big deal. Nothing, absolutely nothing about this case has to do with any blood relation to John, Robert or any other descendent of Joseph P. Kennedy. But here is a headline from USA Today, typical of the stories.
Court reinstates Kennedy cousin Skakel’s murder conviction
Media sees a Kennedy, Justice sees a murderer
There is a story here, but it has nothing to do with the Kennedy’s. The story is about how wealth and money can attempt to buy justice for one person, where elsewhere in our society poverty denies justice. See after his conviction Skakel’s attorneys went to court to try and get his conviction thrown out because, and we’re not making this up, he had ineffective counsel. That’s right, this man who had the benefit of huge wealth and could hire any attorney he wanted argued he did not have a good attorney.
But in October 2013, 38 years after Ms. Moxley was found dead, lying face down beneath a pine tree on her family’s estate, a
judge vacated the guilty verdict, ruling that Mr. Skakel’s trial lawyer,
Michael Sherman, had not provided effective representation. Connecticut
At that time, Mr. Skakel and his new legal team argued that Mr. Sherman had failed to implicate his brother, Thomas Skakel, in the murder, one of their main arguments at trial; failed to adequately pursue an alibi defense; and failed to rebut the testimony of some former schoolmates who said that Mr. Skakel had admitted to the killing. In subsequent arguments, Mr. Skakel’s lawyers also attacked Mr. Sherman for delivering a poor closing argument and for having a conflict of interest in representing him related to how he billed Mr. Skakel.
Wow just look at what is in that report. Skakel wanted his lawyer to implicate his brother and also whines that his attorney gave a poor closing argument. Boo hoo. What a jerk. But incredibly a lower court bought this privileged bull and let Skakel out of jail pending a new trial.
Now reason has prevailed and Skakel’s conviction has been reinstated by the Connecticut Supreme Court.
But in a 69-page decision issued on Friday, the Supreme Court said that Mr. Sherman’s legal work was not deficient. Mr. Skakel “had the burden to present evidence demonstrating that
was constitutionally inadequate,” the court wrote. “In the absence of this
evidence, we must presume that Sherman
performed competently.” Sherman
Yes, in a nation where people who cannot afford an adequate defense are put to death even though they had a lawyer who slept through a trial and even though they had a lawyer with no death penalty experience and even though they had a lawyer who missed filing deadlines, none of which qualifies for grounds of inadequate counsel this man was somehow able to convince some people that he was not adequately represented. What a crock.
Hopefully Mr. Skakel will quickly return to where he belongs, that is prison. And the rest of us can thank the Connecticut Supreme Court, or at least a majority of its members for some minimal justice. No the decision will not make adequate counsel available to poor defendants, but at least we all know that the system is not quite rigged as much as we thought.
To be fair, Skakel’s cousin-in-law and a real Kennedy Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has argued for Skakel’s innocence in a book recently published.
The book explores what Mr. Kennedy says was a botched police investigation as well as prosecutorial misconduct, and plumbs alternate theories of who killed Ms. Moxley. It claims to have definitively solved the murder, identifying two
Bronx teenagers, while suggesting that prosecutors had
evidence to build strong cases against other people, including Ms. Moxley’s
Wow, let’s see who the real murders were.
Mr. Kennedy, who divides his time between
Bedford, N.Y., and , believes
that two men, Burton Tinsley and Adolph Hasbrouck, killed Ms. Moxley. They were
teenagers at the time of the murder, and their names had surfaced after Mr.
Skakel was convicted. Los Angeles
And how did RFK Jr. know this? Well he was told some stuff.
In 2003, Gitano Bryant, a former classmate of Mr. Skakel and a cousin of the basketball star Kobe Bryant, came forward with information that he and the two teenagers had been in the exclusive Belle Haven section of
on Oct. 30,
1975, the night of the murder. Mr. Bryant said that he had left early but that
the other two stayed behind and told him they wanted to attack a girl “cave-man
style.” Both men have denied any involvement, and prosecutors have called the
accusations against them “baseless.” Greenwich
“I am dead certain they did it,” Mr. Kennedy said in an interview in
“but people should read the facts and make up their own mind.” Bedford
Hasbrouck grew up in the
in the 1970s. “My mother and family were strong. My mother taught me character,
integrity. That’s how I have conducted my life.” He graduated from Charles Evans
School in ,
served three years in the U.S. Army, then graduated from SUNY’s The College at
Brockport in 1990. Now 56, he has been married for 20 years, has a grown
daughter and lives in Manhattan . For the past 15
years, he has worked as a network operations supervisor at ABC in Bridgeport,
Connecticut . New York
Yeah, sure looks like a killer. And here is some stuff about his accuser Mr. Bryant
Bryant refused to repeat his story under oath to
and no one has corroborated his claims. Connecticut
In 1993, Bryant was convicted of participating in an armed robbery/home invasion in
in which he claimed to have been kidnapped. He was fired by a California law firm after the firm discovered
Bryant hadn’t passed the bar as he had claimed. Last year, he pleaded guilty in
underreporting millions of dollars in his tobacco importing company, resulting
in a $6 million tax liability. Virginia
Really, does anyone think that if there was any shred of evidence linking an African American with a killing in rich white Greenwich as opposed to a charging a rich white well connected person with the killing that the African American would not have been charged? Get real people.
As for the relationship between RFK Jr. and Skakel there is this.
But Mr. Kennedy, who wrote a long piece about the case for The Atlantic in 2003, said he was motivated by the search for the truth. Until January, he said, he and Mr. Skakel were estranged. The two had a close friendship in the 1980s and ’90s, sharing wilderness trips and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings together.
Now substance abuse is a terrible thing and no indication that one commits crimes, much less murder. But substance abuse indicates a person totally immersed in themselves, and one does note that concern for the victim and her family does not seem to be present while blaming one’s brother is. But then maybe she was a nice and generous person, not a convicted murderer who complains that even though he got the best counsel money can buy he was somehow short changed in life and that everything is someone else’s fault.