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Lawyer seeks bail for Kennedy cousin convicted on 1975 murder

By Richard Weizel

MILFORD, Connecticut (Reuters) - A defense attorney for Kennedy cousin and convicted murderer Michael Skakel, freshly granted a new trial for the 1975 slaying of a teenage neighbor in Connecticut, made a request for bail on Thursday that could release him after 11 years in prison.

No date was set for a bail hearing, which would be required, but the request was being reviewed by Superior Court Judge Thomas Bishop, said court clerk William Salvatore.

The same judge on Wednesday overturned Skakel's 2002 conviction for the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley in Greenwich and ordered a new trial on grounds that his previous defense attorney, Mickey Sherman, did not competently defend him.

Skakel is serving 20 years to life in prison.

Skakel's attorney Hubert Santos made the bail request to the judge on Thursday in Superior Court in Rockville.

The judge responded with a request for more information from the defense, saying he needed to be convinced he has the authority to set a bail hearing. Another option may be for Skakel's attorney to seek a hearing in Norwalk, the court where he was convicted.

The defense attorney said he planned to respond to the judge's request by Monday.

Skakel, 53, is the nephew of Ethel Skakel Kennedy, widow of slain U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy.

Skakel and Moxley were both 15 when she was beaten to death with a golf club. Her body was found on the lawn of her parents' home in the affluent suburb.

In overturning Skakel's conviction, Bishop issued a 135-page decision that was stinging in its criticism of Skakel's original trial lawyer.

Prosecutors said they will appeal his decision.

Skakel, who has maintained his innocence, was arrested in 2000. He was unsuccessful in his bid to be tried as a juvenile.

In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by Skakel seeking to overturn his conviction on grounds that his constitutional rights had been violated because Connecticut's five-year statute of limitations, in place at the time Moxley was killed, had expired when he was charged.

In 2009, lawyers for Skakel unsuccessfully sought a new trial to overturn the conviction, saying new evidence implicated other men.

He lost a bid for parole a year ago.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Gunna Dickson)

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