October 24th, 2013
02:41 PM ET

Judge Orders Retrial For Michael Skakel, Kennedy Cousin

A high-profile murder case involving one of America's most well-known political families took a dramatic turn Wednesday when a judge ordered a new trial for Michael Skakel, the nephew of Robert and Ethel Kennedy.

Skakel, who has spent more than a decade behind bars, is accused of killing 15-year-old neighbor Martha Moxley with a golf club in 1975. Twenty-seven years after her death, he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

For years, Skakel fought unsuccessfully for his conviction to be overturned. But a Connecticut judge gave Skakel, 53, a chance for a fresh start Wednesday, ruling that the defense during his 2002 trial had been inadequate.

State's Attorney John Smriga said prosecutors plan to appeal, but are still reviewing the judge's decision.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has long maintained his cousin's innocence, described the judge's order as a "blessed event."

"I think everybody who knows Michael's overjoyed with it," Kennedy told CNN's "AC360."

Martha Moxley's mother said the judge's ruling does nothing to change her mind.

"There's not a way they can erase what was said during the first trial. ... I have not given up and I do believe Michael Skakel killed my daughter," Dorthy Moxley told CNN's "Piers Morgan Live." "If there is a new trial, I will be there."

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