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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK
Kennedy cousin sentenced for murder
A sketch of the Skakel trial jury
Skakel was found guilty in June
Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel has been sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for beating a girl to death 27 years ago, when they were both 15.

Skakel, who is related to the Kennedy US political dynasty through his aunt Ethel, the widow of Robert Kennedy, was found guilty of the murder in June.

Michael Skakel
Michael Skakel was said to be motivated by jealousy
Judge John Kavanewsky passed sentence in a Connecticut court on Thursday despite last-minute appeals by the defendant's lawyers for a retrial.

Skakel - who had seemed on the verge of tears when convicted - stood dispassionately as the judge gave out the sentence.

"Whatever sentence I get, I accept in God's name," he was quoted as saying.

Mystery unravelled

The battered body of Martha Moxley, who lived near the Skakel family in the prestigious Greenwich neighbourhood of Belle Haven, was found on the lawn of her parents' house.


Whatever sentence I get, I accept in God's name

Michael Skakel
The mystery of who killed Moxley has cast a shadow over the Kennedy family ever since.

She had been bludgeoned with a golf club - later traced to a set owned by Skakel's mother - and stabbed in the neck with the shaft of the club.

There was no witness to the crime or forensic evidence but several people testified that they had heard Skakel, 41, confess to the crime.

One witness quoted him as saying: "I'm going to get away with murder, because I'm a Kennedy."

The prosecution said Skakel had been motivated to kill Martha Moxley by jealousy.

Witnesses testified he had a crush on her and was upset because his attractive neighbour seemed more interested in his older brother, Thomas, an early suspect in the slaying.

Martha Moxley
It took 27 years to convict Moxley's murderer
But defence lawyers tried to call for a re-trial, saying that prosecutors had withheld a police sketch of a man near the murder scene who resembled Kenneth Littleton, the Skakel family tutor and an initial suspect in the case.

Judge Kavanewsky dismissed the argument.

Skakel was the third suspect named by police since the murder on 30 October, 1975.

He was finally arrested in January 2000.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Jane Standley reports
"His lawyers have pressed for a re-trial"
See also:

07 Jun 02 | Americas
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31 Jan 01 | Americas
21 Jun 00 | Americas
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