Huffpost Crime

Michael Skakel Parole Hearing Scheduled For Oct. 24: Kennedy Cousin Could Be Released

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Michael Skakel addresses the court in Middletown, Conn., Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. Skakel is seeking a reduction in his sentence of 20 years to life in prison for killing his neighbor Martha Moxley. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, Pool)
Michael Skakel addresses the court in Middletown, Conn., Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. Skakel is seeking a reduction in his sentence of 20 years to life in prison for killing his neighbor Martha Moxley. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, Pool)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- A hearing will be held next month on whether Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, who was convicted of killing a neighbor in 1975, should be released from prison, a state official said Monday.

Skakel's first parole hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 24, John DeFeo, executive director of the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Parole, told The Associated Press. Skakel is eligible to be released next March if the three-member board approves it, DeFeo said.

Skakel, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, is serving 20 years to life for fatally beating Martha Moxley with a golf club in Greenwich when they were 15-year-old neighbors. Skakel is a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy.

Moxley's mother, Dorthy Moxley, said she would oppose Skakel's release.

"If it were up to me, I'd leave him in jail for the rest of his life," she said.

A message left with Skakel's attorney wasn't immediately returned.

Skakel was convicted in 2002. He is eligible for parole consideration because of laws in place at the time of the crime such as good behavior credits, officials have said.

In March, Skakel lost his bid for a reduction in his prison sentence. A three-judge panel rejected Skakel's request, saying there was nothing inappropriate or disproportionate about the sentence.

The 52-year-old Skakel insisted on his innocence at the hearing, citing so-called truth serums he has taken that are used to help people remember.

"Give me a polygraph," Skakel told the judges. "I've passed three sodium pentathol tests. I don't know what else to say."

Dorthy Moxley rejected Skakel's claims of innocence.

"I truly believe he is the one who murdered Martha," she said. "I'm sure he's the one who swung the golf club."

Moxley said she will ask her friends to write to the parole board.

Asked about the impact of the crime, Moxley said, "When you lose a loved one, it just never goes away."

The state Supreme Court ruled in 2010 against Skakel's bid for a new trial, saying a claim implicating two other men in the killing wasn't credible. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Skakel has a habeas corpus appeal pending in state courts, accusing his trial attorney, Michael Sherman, of doing a poor job, a claim Sherman has rejected.

Skakel, who was arrested in 2000, has not had any disciplinary issues in prison, said Brian Garnett, spokesman for the state Department of Correction.