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Kennedy Cousin Receives Minimum 20-Year Sentence for Moxley Murder - 2002-08-29

A judge in the northeastern state of Connecticut has sentenced Michael Skakel to 20 years to life imprisonment for the 1975 murder of a teenage neighbor. The case has received nationwide attention because Skakel is the nephew of Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Senator Robert Kennedy.

In June, after trial that lasted over three weeks, a jury convicted Michael Skakel of beating 15-year-old Martha Moxely to death with a golf club more than a quarter of a century ago.

At the time of the murder, he was one of several suspects. But the crime went unsolved because there was no physical evidence directly linking any of the suspects to the murder. The case was reopened after several books, written in the 1990s, prompted new investigation, and a number of people testified that Skakel had made incriminating comments to them.

During the lengthy sentencing hearing, which lasted into a second day, defense lawyers asked for a retrial, saying the prosecution has withheld crucial evidence. The judge turned down the request.

Skakel, who was also 15 years old at the time of the murder, is now 41. He addressed the court, insisting he was innocent. Defense lawyers have said they plan to appeal the verdict.