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Thursday
Nov212013

Kennedy Cousin Granted Bond in 1975 Murder Case

Getty Images(STAMFORD, Conn.) -- Michael Skakel, a Kennedy cousin, was granted bond Thursday after a judge found that his defense lawyer did not adequately represent him 11 years ago when he was tried for a murder committed decades earlier.

Skakel, the 53-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy, was granted bond after serving 11 years of a 20 years to life sentence for the brutal 1975 murder of teenager Martha Moxley. She was beaten to death with a golf club.

Judge Thomas Bishop did not overturn the ruling or find Skakel innocent. Instead, he set bond at $ 1.2 million and required Skakel to wear a GPS device and ordered him to remain in Connecticut.

Skakel smiled and the courtroom, filled with Kennedy relatives, burst into applause as Skakel stood up to leave the courtroom.

A judge last month found that Skakel's trial lawyer failed to call witnesses that could attest to Skakel's alibi that he was at his cousin's house the night of the murder, and failed to find another witness that could contest the testimony of someone who claimed Skakel confessed.

Police initially suspected his older brother Thomas. In the intervening years, police began building a case against Skakel based on circumstantial evidence that he had confessed to the murder.

"I'm disappointed ,but this is life," said Dorthy Moxley, Martha's mother, who has attended every day of trial and hearings in the case's many years.

Skakel's family released a statement calling the conviction a "terrible wrong."

"This is the first step in correcting a terrible wrong. We look forward to Michael being vindicated and justice finally being served," the statement read.

"We are thankful to God that after 11 and one half years he will be reunited with his son. We are grateful for the love and prayers of Michael's many supporters who have sustained him through this ordeal."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio