Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. believes his cousin Michael Skakel was wrongfully convicted and spent 11 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. His book “Framed” investigated who might have really killed 15-year-old Martha Moxley in 1975, and has now been optioned by FX Productions to be developed as a multi-part TV series.
Skakel was arrested in 2000 for the murder and was later convicted, before being released on $1.2 million bail in 2013 when a Connecticut judge found that he had not received a fair trial because his counsel was ineffective. But at the end of 2016, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled 4-3 to reinstate his conviction.
A motion for reconsideration is now in the works, and Kennedy is optimistic that Skakel has a good chance of permanently going free. But he also believes a TV adaptation of “Framed” will expose the story to a wider audience, helping his case. “The more people who know the truth about this case, the better it is for Michael,” Kennedy told IndieWire.
Moxley was killed in Greenwich, Conn., on Halloween 1975. She was last seen with Skakel’s brother, Thomas, and found murdered near her home the next day. After books by crime chronicler Dominick Dunne and disgraced police officer Mark Fuhrman pointed the finger at Michael Skakel, he was arrested.
“He was 11 miles away with five eyewitnesses at the time the crime was committed,” Kennedy said. “And he was never a suspect until Mark Fuhrman made him a suspect.”
Kennedy said Fuhrman’s book was “his rebound attempt” from the O.J. Simpson trial.
“He was convicted of perjury so he could never be a police officer again,” he said. “So he was trying to restart his career as a crime-busting author. He looked around and found Dominick Dunne, who introduced him to the Skakel case. And Mark Fuhrman said if it’s not a Kennedy who’s guilty, there’s no story. So he had to find someone to take the rap and call him a Kennedy.”
In “Framed,” which was released last year by independent book publisher Skyhorse Publishing, Kennedy fingered two men who he believes are the real killers. Kennedy also believed that Skakel’s case was impacted by a desire by some people to attack the “Kennedy” name.
“The irony, in this case, is Michael Skakel doesn’t have a drop of Kennedy blood,” Kennedy said. “What I show is because of a relationship between my mother and his family that they were able to rename him a ‘Kennedy cousin,’ even though he is not a Kennedy cousin. To create a media orgy that landed him a crime that he didn’t commit.”
As for the Moxley family, Kennedy said hoped that they would eventually read his book and consider the evidence that he found.
“I explain in the book that Mrs. Moxley has said she never looked at the evidence, that she believes what Mark Fuhrman told her,” Kennedy said. “Mark Fuhrman spent two months investigating a 27-year-old crime. And then wrote a quickie book about it that was very unconvincing. But it became the basis for the prosecution.”
But, the son of Robert F. Kennedy said he also understands why the Moxley family might not want to re-open old wounds.
“I’ve had a number of people murdered in my family and I know the pain of it,” he said. “To have to relive and reinvestigate and refocus on very painful moments in their lives. I don’t blame them for not wanting to focus on the details of that night. But it doesn’t do them any good, it just compounds the tragedy to have an innocent man in jail for a murder he didn’t commit while the true killers go free.”