Skakel Gets 20 Years to Life

Skakel's incarceration could possibly be cut in half because Connecticut sentencing rules that were in effect at the time of Moxley's slaying allow time off for good behavior. Those same sentencing rules also make Skakel eligible for parole.

Both these guidelines have since been abolished in Connecticut.

Moxley's body was found in the early hours of Oct. 31, 1975, on her family's Greenwich estate. Police said the 15-year-old was beaten to death with a golf club from the Skakel home, which was next door to the Moxley house.

Prosecutors convinced jurors in June that Skakel, who was also 15 at the time of the murder, had been competing with his brother Thomas for Moxley's affections and that Michael clubbed the girl to death when she rejected his sexual advances.

Skakel's conviction surprised many courtroom observers because prosecutors did not have any physical evidence linking him to the killing and there were no eyewitnesses.

Because of the time that had passed since the slaying and the lack of physical evidence, prosecutors had to rely largely on circumstantial evidence. Over the course of 27 years, some evidence was not preserved, potential witnesses died and the memories of living witnesses were open for challenge.

Prosecutors: Skakel Convicted by His Mouth

During the trial, prosecutors said Skakel had confessed to Moxley's slaying on numerous occasions over the years to several different people. Prosecutors had to rely on the memories of Skakel's former classmates at the Elan School in Maine, a residential substance-abuse treatment center for teens.

Several testified that they remembered hearing a troubled Skakel confess to killing Moxley or say he thought he might have killed her. Sherman challenged the memories of these witnesses, questioning their motives and their reasons for waiting so long to come forward with information.

Skakel's conviction was also an emotional victory for the Moxley family, especially Martha's mother, who had long lobbied police to keep investigating her daughter's case.

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