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Kennedy clan member Michael Skakel might have won after all, even though finally convicted in 2002 for the 1975 murder of his then teenaged neighbor Martha Moxley. Although currently serving a 20 years to life sentence, Skakel will be eligible for parole in 2013. The Moxley murder case garnered nationwide attention after court and society observer Dominick Dunne and former police investigator Mark Fuhrman both wrote books that helped bring the case back to the attention of authorities. Although consistently appealing his case since 2002, Skakel lost his last appeal before the Connecticut Supreme Court this past Monday, April 12.
According to the Associated Press, Skakel will be eligible for parole in just three years, due to his good behavior in prison and participation in programs such as the prison art program. The state policies which gave credit for such things was eliminated in 1994, but the parole regulations which govern his case are those in effect at the time the crime was committed. The AP does not report whether the prosecution could or did make an argument that Skakel should not receive the benefit of the more lenient rules simply because he successfully avoided conviction for nearly 30 years.
The AP reports the initial parole hearing could begin in as little as 18 months as they are often held 18 months before the first parole eligibility date. Not only will Skakel's prison record be taken into account, but other issues such as the victim impact statement will be reviewed by the parole board.
Martha Moxley's brother, John Moxley, tells the AP he will oppose the parole. "There's been no remorse," Moxley said. "There's been no taking accountability. There's been nothing to suggest that imprisonment has changed his mindset or the mindset of the family." However, Skakel will retain one other benefit from the many years that have passed since the crime was committed. It will not be hard for his attorneys to argue that due to the many years that passed since the original crime, he is unlikely to re-offend notes Jeffrey Meyer, a Quinnipiac University law professor who has written about Connecticut's parole laws.
Skakel is still pursuing other legal avenues. He plans another appeal based on ineffective assistance of counsel at trial.