CT Supreme Court vacates murder conviction for Michael Skakel

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HARTFORD -

The state Supreme Court has vacated Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel's murder conviction and ruled that he is entitled to a new trial.

Skakel was convicted for the murder of his 15-year-old neighbor Martha Moxley in Greenwich in 1975.

On Friday, the justices ruled 4-3 that Skakel's right to a fair trial was violated due to an ineffective lawyer who did not provide an adequate defense. It marks a reversal from the decision the same court handed down 16 months ago.

MORE: Timeline in Skakel case

Michael Fitzpatrick, Skakel's current attorney, had asked the state's highest court to take another look at the case.

"That trial counsel's failure to investigate an important alibi witness affected the outcome of the trial," he said Friday. "The Supreme Court this time around found that the failure was serious and that the failure impacted the outcome of the trial."

Skakel has been free since November 2013 while the court considered his latest appeal.

He will remain free unless he is tried and convicted again.

Skakel's attorneys released a statement after the ruling that says in part, "Today's ruling makes clear that Michael Skakel spent 11-and-a-half years unjustly imprisoned in violation of the constitution. To be absolutely clear: Michael Skakel is innocent of this crime. We are grateful to Judge Bishop and the Connecticut Supreme Court for correcting this miscarriage of justice."

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