Seth Wenig / AP
Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET
Connecticut prosecutors are closing the door to a 45-year murder case involving Kennedy’s cousin Michael Skakel, who was previously accused of killing his 15-year-old neighbor Martha Moxley in Greenwich.
Attorney General Richard Colangelo Jr. said on Friday – exactly 45 years after Moxley’s death – that the state would not want a second trial for Skakel.
During a hearing in the Supreme Court of Stamford, Colangelo filed what is known as “nolle” – a legal declaration allowing the case to be terminated after 13 months, his office confirmed to NPR.
The decision comes after a review of Colangelo’s case found that 17 of the prosecution’s 51 potential witnesses had died, making it difficult to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, his office said.
This decision effectively closes a case that has attracted widespread public attention for decades, in part because of the Skakel family’s wealth and the gruesome details of the heinous crime.
“Today is a great day for justice,” Skakel’s criminal defense attorney Stefan Zeger said after the hearing. The state’s case against his client was “thin from the start.”
Skakel was convicted of murder in 2002. and has been on bail since 2013, when a state judge acquitted him. At the time, Supreme Court Judge Thomas Bishop ruled that the defense of the trial, presented by Skakel’s original lawyer, had been flawed and needed a retrial. One such gap in the defense is the failure to conduct an alibi witness for Skakel.
The Connecticut Supreme Court has ordered a new trial in 2018. Seeger said his office is working to prepare for this trial, leading to Friday’s hearing.
Seeger said Colangelo’s decision not to seek a second trial also stemmed from his efforts to show the prosecutor the loopholes in the Skakel case, which he said included suspicious alibi witnesses and evidence that could reasonably point to other potential suspects.
Moxley was found dead in a wealthy Connecticut suburb of Greenwich in 1975. She was beaten by a golf club that was later found to belong to the Skakel family and was also stabbed with a broken metal shaft.
The case was cold for 25 years until Skakel’s arrest in 2000. Skakel was also 15 at the time of the murder.
Skakel, now 60, is the nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel Kennedy.