Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel is guilty of murder in the 1975 bludgeoning death of his teenage neighbor, Martha Moxley, a jury decided today.
Jurors in Superior Court in Norwalk, Conn., deliberated for more than three days before reaching their decision.
Skakel, 41, will be sentenced on July 19. He faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 25 years to life. Skakel's lawyer, Mickey Sherman, has said he would appeal.
Moxley's battered body was found in the early hours of Oct. 31, 1975, on her family's estate in an affluent neighborhood in Greenwich, Conn. Police said the 15-year-old was bludgeoned to death with a golf club from the Skakel home, next door to the Moxley house.
Skakel slumped as the verdict was read and glanced with surprise at the jury and then at the courtroom audience, according to press accounts from the courtroom.
Members of both the Moxley and the Skakel families let out heavy sighs, but were silenced by court marshals. Skakel was handcuffed while still in the courtroom and was led to a prison van that took him to a jail in Bridgeport, Conn.
There, Skakel was expected to be photographed and fingerprinted.
Prosecutors led by Jonathan Benedict said Skakel, who was also 15 at the time of the murder, had been competing with his older brother, Thomas, for Moxley's affections. They alleged that Michael beat the girl to death when she rejected his sexual advances.
Skakel, who did not take the stand during the trial, has said he had nothing to do with the crime. His defense argued that he was at a cousin's house in another part of Greenwich around the time of the slaying. Skakel relatives testified that Michael was with them in a car that left the Skakel home about 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 30.
Michael Skakel is the nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel.
The verdict is an emotional victory for the Moxley family, especially Martha's mother, Dorthy, who campaigned tirelessly for justice for her daughter.
Emotional Day for Family Members
After the verdict was read, Dorthy Moxley told reporters she woke up this morning and said a prayer for her daughter. "My prayer started out, 'Dear Lord, again today like I've been doing for 27 years, I'm praying I can find justice for Martha,' " she said. "This whole thing was about Martha … This is Martha's day."
John Moxley, Martha's brother, said the victory, while satisfying, was "hollow."
"It doesn't bring Martha back," he said.
David Skakel, Michael's younger brother, expressed disappointment at the verdict but said his family was resolute in vindicating his brother. In a prepared statement, he called the trial a "witch hunt."
"You may want finality to this tragedy and our family wants the same as much as anyone, but truth is more important than closure," he said. "We only know who did not do this."
Convicted By His Own Words
For his part, Sherman said he would continue his legal fight for Skakel. "As long as there is a breath in my body, this case is not over."
Sherman said the prosecution's case was flimsy, and the jury's decision was based on a desire to find vengeance for the Moxley family.
Triumphant prosecutors, who presented evidence that Skakel had confessed to the killing to former classmates, said Skakel's own words were the most convincing evidence against him. "He really hung himself on his own petard, so to speak," Benedict said.