As the investigation into Martha Moxley took off, the authorities had suspects but no viable evidence to charge them. But more than two decades later, Michael Skakel, who used to be Martha’s neighbor, was implicated in her death. CBS’ ‘48 Hours: The Diary of Martha Moxley’ takes a look at this complex case that went on for years, with seemingly no result even after all this while. So, if you’re curious about what happened to Michael and where he might be now, here’s what we know!
Who is Michael Skakel?
Michael Skakel was born in September 1960 as the fifth of seven children in the family. He grew up in Belle Haven in Connecticut but lost his mother when he was about 12 years old. That became a turning point in his life because Michael started abusing alcohol soon after. According to people who knew him, Michael was considered a problematic kid with a temper. When Martha was murdered in October 1975, Michael was initially not considered a suspect.
Michael’s alibi was that he was at a cousin’s house about eight miles away, watching TV. Then 15, he claimed to have come home sometime before midnight and gone to sleep soon after. In the meantime, there were no other leads, leading to the case turning cold. But many years later, a fresh look at the case prompted Michael’s father, Rushton, to hire his own team of investigators in a bid to clear his sons’ names.
But this investigation revealed that Michael had not been truthful regarding the events of October 30, 1975. Because, around midnight, Michael was drunk and had gone to Martha’s house in a bid to meet her. After climbing the tree outside her window, he tried to get her attention by throwing stones at the window. Then, Michael admitted to masturbating in the tree and then went back home. In 1997, he was recorded saying on tape for a tell-all biography, “I ran home, and I remember thinking, “Oh my God, I hope to God no one saw me jerking off. … and I remember thinking ‘Oh, my God, if I tell anyone I was out that night, they’re gonna say I did it.'”
The case picked up from there, and in 1998, a special grand jury was convened to hear evidence in the case. In 1978, Michael was booked for drunk driving, and in a deal with the police, he agreed to go to a boarding school in Maine to receive treatment. He stayed there for two years. Two of his former classmates from there later testified that he admitted to killing Martha, allegedly saying, “I’m gonna get away with murder. I’m a Kennedy.”
By the time the case went to trial, Michael had been married to Margot Sheridan, a professional golfer, and had a son with her. Margot filed for divorce in 2000, not too long after he was placed under arrest. He was then tried as an adult. Despite no physical evidence tying Michael to the murder, the 40-year-old was found guilty in June 2002 and sentenced to 20 years to life a few months later. Michael’s cousin, Robert Kennedy Jr, always believed he was innocent, just like the rest of his family.
Robert had later learned of Tony Bryant, another classmate of Michael’s who had some explosive information. According to Tony, he and two of his friends used to frequent Greenwich, Connecticut, and one of them was obsessed with Martha. They had even planned to use golf clubs to get a girl “caveman” style. Tony declined to be a part of the plan, but he thought his friends might have been involved when Martha was found dead.
Where is Michael Skakel Now?
After a series of appeals, a new trial was granted for Michael in 2013, as a judge ruled that his trial attorney did not provide effective counsel. While the conviction was reinstated in 2016, the Connecticut Supreme court overturned it in May 2018. Finally, in October 2020, the prosecution stated that Michael would not be tried again for the murder because it was difficult to prove that he committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. After spending more than a decade behind bars, Michael was free. While he used to live in Florida before his arrest, Michael’s current whereabouts are unknown. He has understandably stayed away from the public eye.
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