Michael Skakel — the Kennedy cousin who spent more than a decade in prison for the 1975 murder of his teenage Connecticut neighbor before he was sprung on procedural grounds — is suing the town of Greenwich and its lead police investigator over claims he was locked behind bars in a targeted attack.
The lawsuit claims investigators pinned the slaying on Skakel for their own personal and financial gain.
Skakel, a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel Kennedy, was convicted of 15-year-old Martha Moxley’s murder in 2002 and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison, but was released in 2013 when a judge overturned his conviction.
Although the 63-year-old’s conviction was overturned in 2018 when the state Supreme Court found that his trial lawyer had failed to adequately represent him and it was announced in 2020 that he would not be put on trial for the murder again, Skakel’s lawyer argued the damage had already been done.
“Michael spent over 11 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. The time and the relationships — his life as he knew it — cannot be returned to him,” Stephan Seeger told The Post in a text.
“The ‘Kennedy Cousin’ moniker sensationalized Michael’s case. Taken together with procedural and evidentiary limitations, and including differing standards on Appeal, Michael’s case has been misunderstood for many years.”
According to Seeger, the lawsuit — which he dubbed a “civil rights case” — exposes new details that had not previously come to light because of how sensationalized the case had become.
“There is a different story that underlies the lawsuit – and now a court in a civil proceeding with different standards of proof is being called upon to right an injustice that took Michael’s freedom and family away from him unjustly,” Seeger said.
The new lawsuit alleges that investigator Frank Garr was intent on getting Skakel convicted for his own personal gain and withheld key evidence about other potential suspects from Skakel’s trial defense.
The defendants in the lawsuit “knew that there were other more likely suspects and that there was no probable cause to arrest and/or maintain a prosecution against [Skakel], but continued to do so intentionally and maliciously, in order to convict a ‘Kennedy Cousin,’” the suit alleges.
Skakel, who was 15 at the time, had maintained he was miles away watching a “Monty Python” TV show with others around the time Moxley was bludgeoned to death with a golf club owned by the Skakel family on Oct. 29, 1975.
She was found the next morning on her family’s estate across the street from the Skakel residence.
At Skakel’s trial, prosecutors suggested he was angry with Moxley because she rebuffed his advances — while becoming sexually involved with his brother, Tommy, just moments before she was killed.
Skakel’s appellate lawyers later argued that Skakel’s trial attorney made poor decisions, including not focusing on Tommy as a possible suspect and failing to attempt to contact an alibi witness.
The newest lawsuit claims Greenwich police, prosecutors and Garr, who worked for Greenwich police before becoming an inspector with the state’s attorney’s office, withheld crucial information that would have proved Skakel’s innocence, including statements from witnesses who said two other men were in Moxley’s neighborhood.
The lawsuit also alleged Garr had “deep antipathy” toward Skakel and his family and threatened witnesses who could have poked holes in his narrative that the Kennedy relative was the killer.
Garr, according to the lawsuit, had hoped to cash in on the case by collaborating on a book about Skakel killing Moxley.
Messages left at a number for Garr and his attorney were not returned.
A lawyer for Greenwich did not immediately return an email message.
Additionally, Skakel suffered violations of his constitutional rights, loss of liberty from his time in prison, humiliation, embarrassment, “severe emotional distress, terror and fear,” financial loss and harm and “destruction of reputation and family relationships,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit, filed in state court in Stamford in November, seeks unspecified damages over $15,000.
With Post wires