Michael Skakel, who is the nephew of Ethel and the late Robert F. Kennedy, was denied parole Wednesday and told he would not be allowed another chance at freedom for five years. Skakel was convicted in 2002 for beating his teenage neighbor, Martha Moxley, to death with a golf club in 1975. He is serving 20 years to life.
The Washington Post reports that Skakel, who was facing his first parole board since being jailed a decade ago, grimaced before patting his lawyer on the back as he was led away following the unanimous decision by the three person board.
Skakel, who like Moxley was 15 at the time of the killing, has maintained his innocence, and he proclaimed it again on Wednesday at the McDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut.
“If I could ease Mrs. Moxley’s pain in any way, shape or form I would take responsibility all day long for this crime,” Skakel said. “I cannot bear false witness against myself.”
The Mrs. Moxley he referred to was Dorthy Moxley, Martha’s mother, who the Associated Press reports denies Skakel’s claims of innocence.
Skakel’s supporters include cousin Robert Kennedy Jr., who wrote a letter to the parole board discussing Skakel’s work in helping alcoholics recover. Skakel himself discussed his ex-wife’s recent cancer diagnosis and concern for his now 13-year-old son as reasons he seeks early release, along with his innocence.
The parole board concluded that the time Skakel has served was not punishment enough for his crime. Still, they noted that the denial was not based on a risk he would reoffend. They also praised his behavior in prison.
The Kennedy cousin Skakel will have another shot at parole in five years.