Nearly 40 years after the crime and over a decade after his conviction, Robert Kennedy Jr. is adamant that his cousin Michael Skakel is not guilty of murder.
Kennedy Jr. spoke with Matt Lauer on The Today Show Thursday morning, just hours after Skakel, now 52, was awarded a new trial by a Connecticut judge.
The judge ruled that Skakel’s attorney failed to adequately represent him when he was convicted in 2002 of the 1975 murder of his neighbor Martha Moxley.
Both Skakel and Moxley were just 15 years old when the crime occurred.
“We are thrilled with the ruling,” Kennedy Jr. told Lauer via a live satellite interview from San Francisco. “We think the judge was right…he is a very respected judge.”
Since his conviction, Kennedy Jr. has maintained that his cousin is innocent.
He insists that Skakel was 11 miles away from the Greenwich crime scene and that there are five eyewitnesses who can confirm his whereabouts at the time of the crime.
Kennedy Jr. also said that testimony from eyewitness Gregory Coleman was completely untrue.
Coleman testified that Skakel confessed the crime to him while the two were classmates together at the Elan School, a residential substance abuse treatment center.
During his testimony, Coleman said that there were three witnesses that where present when Skakel confessed. Coleman died of a heroin overdose in 2001.
“Michael’s (first) lawyers never tried to find them (the eyewitnesses) ,” said Kennedy Jr. “The new lawyers found them…they all said it what Gregory Coleman said was a lie.”
Kennedy believes Coleman was making these statements to collect a cash reward.
Today, Skakel’s lawyers will begin to file motions for a new trial. If granted, Skakel could be released from prison for the duration of the trial. The state is appealing the overturn.
“If he gets into a new trial, he will definitely be freed,” said Kennedy Jr. “I support him not out of misguided family loyalty, but because I believe he is innocent.”
While the Kennedy family will be by Skakel’s side if and when he gets a new trial, Martha Moxley’s family believes that the man responsible for their loved ones death has already been convicted.
“If there is a new trial, I still feel the same way I have always felt,” said Dorothy Moxley, Martha’s mother. “ Michael Skakel is very, very guilty.”