When Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel was released from prison yesterday after serving 11-and-a-half years in prison for the murder of his Greenwich neighbor, a “great weight” was lifted off his shoulders, his defense attorney said during an exclusive interview on the "Today Show."
Attorney Hubert Santos sat down with NBC’s Matt Lauer this morning and said his client did not describe his emotions as he walked out of court in Stamford, but the signs were evident.
“You could see by his conduct that a great weight had been lifted off his shoulders, and the first thing he said to me when we posted the bond, his first remarks, were ‘Thank God.’” Santos said.
In 2002, Skakel was convicted of beating his 15-year-old Greenwich neighbor, Martha Moxley, to death with a golf club in 1975.
He had served 11-and-a-half years of a 20 years to life sentence when Judge Thomas Bishop last month ruled that Skakel's former trial attorney failed to adequately represent him in 2002.
This case, however, is not over. The state plans to appeal the decision.
Santos told Lauer that his client is not worried about the prospects of a new trial.
“He’s not worried because he knows he did not commit the crime, did not murder Martha Moxley, so he would look forward to another trial where all of the evidence would be heard by the jury,” Santos said.
During the bond hearing, the prosecutor stood up and pointed out that Skakel was being granted a new trial because his former attorney acted poorly, not because Skakel is innocent.
Santos also addressed that this morning.
“Well, the judge who ordered the new trial said very, in a 136-page opinion, that the case against Michael Skakel was weak, very weak, and so we anticipate that at a retrial, the jury will finally hear all of the evidence,” Santos said.
Lauer questioned Santos about strategies for a possible retrial.
Skakel’s legal team would present evidence regarding other people who had been suspected, including Skakel’s own brother, Thomas, who was never charged in the case.
“Would you be willing to point a finger at Michael’s own brother Thomas in this case,” Lauer asked.
“Well, we most certainly, if there is a retrial, we not only would present that evidence for the jury to consider, but we also would present other evidence of people who have been suspects over the years,” Santos said.
Thomas Skakel has always maintained his innocence and has never been charged, Lauer said.
Michael has also said he does not think his brother committed the crime, Santos said.
In the event of a new trial, Skakel would take the stand, according to Santos.
The discussion also focused on whether it is possible for Michael Skakel to get a fair trial.
“Not in Stamford, not in Fairfield County, where … what was not understood at the first trail was the enormous impact publicity had -- the book by Dominick Dunne, the book by Mark Fuhrman and, of course, the great sympathy for Mrs. Moxley, which everyone shares,” Santos said.
Moxley's mother, Dorthy, has said she remains convinced Michael Skakel is guilty.
Moxley's brother, John, said yesterday that the family stands behind the state, that it is a technicality that Michael Skakel is free and that Bishop's decision will be overturned.