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Kennedy Cousin Skakel Freed on Bail in 1975 Murder of Neighbor

Image: Kennedy Cousin Skakel Freed on Bail in 1975 Murder of Neighbor (AP)

Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel was freed on bail on Thursday by a Stamford Superior Court judge, after spending the last 11 years in prison for the 1975 murder of a teenage neighbor in Greenwich, Conn.

Judge Gary White set Skakel's bail at $1.2 million and told him not to leave the state of Connecticut and to wear a GPS tracking device while out on bail. Applause broke out in the packed courtroom as White made his ruling.

Skakel in 2002 was convicted of murdering neighbor Martha Moxley, when both were 15. Another judge last month ordered a new trial in the case, finding that Skakel's lawyer had been ineffective.

Skakel's new attorney, Hubert Santos, argued in court that his client did not represent a flight risk.

"He is one of the most recognizable faces in the country," Santos said.

Bridgeport State's Attorney John Smriga had urged for bail to be set as high as $2 million, saying "this was a brutal murder."

Skakel, the nephew of Ethel Kennedy and slain U.S. senator Robert Kennedy, was granted a new trial by Superior Court Judge Thomas Bishop in Rockville, Connecticut.

Bishop overturned Skakel's murder conviction for bludgeoning Moxley to death with a golf club, and decided three weeks ago to allow the 53-year-old to seek bail. There were other suspects in the case, in which Moxley's body was dumped on her parents' lawn.

Bishop ruled Skakel had an inadequate defense at his first trial and criticized his former lawyer, Michael Sherman, for his "glaring ineffectiveness."

© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel was freed on bail on Thursday after spending the past 11 years in prison for the 1975 murder of a teenage neighbor in Greenwich, Conn.
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