crimesider

Appeal in Michael Skakel murder case could stretch into 2015

Part of a series: Crimesider's cases to watch in 2014

The long-running murder case involving Kennedy relative Michael Skakel is likely to take even more twists and turns in 2014 and beyond.

Skakel, the 53-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel Kennedy, was convicted in 2002 in the 1975 death of his neighbor Martha Moxley and was sentenced to 20 years-to-life for the crime. But in October, a Connecticut judge ruled that Mickey Sherman, Skakel’s lawyer, failed to adequately represent Skakel in his murder trial, and for that reason, granted him a new trial.

Skakel has since been released from prison on bond.

WATCH: 48 Hours: "The Ghosts of Greenwich"

The government has said it intends to appeal the judge’s decision to vacate Skakel's conviction. CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman told Crimesider that this appeal is projected to take at least two years. First, said Klieman, the state will ask an appeals court to reinstate Skakel's conviction.

If that happens, "Michael Skakel has to go back to prison,” said Klieman. “On the other hand, if an appellate court says that this was a good decision, that Michael Skakel deserves a new trial, then and only then does the government decide should they try him or not.”

Klieman said she thinks Dorothy Moxley, Martha Moxley’s mother, will play a big role in the government’s decision about whether to further pursue its case against Skakel.

The Moxleys have said they believe firmly that Skakel is responsible for bludgeoning their 15-year-old daughter to death with a golf club in the exclusive neighborhood of Belle Haven in Greenwich, Conn., according to the Associated Press. Skakel was also 15 at the time of the crime.

“I think that the government will give due deference to Dorothy Moxley,” said Klieman.

However, Klieman said the largely circumstantial case against Skakel was "thin," and called the chances of success if the government decides to try him a second time, "challenging."

  • Stephanie Slifer

    Stephanie Slifer covers crime and justice for CBSNews.com.

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