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Michael Skakel Seeking Reduction Of Sentence In 1975 Killing

MIDDLETOWN, CT (CBSNewYork/AP) - A lawyer for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel told a panel of Connecticut judges Tuesday that his client's 20-year to life prison sentence for killing his teen neighbor in 1975 was excessive.

Skakel was convicted in 2002 of beating 15-year-old Martha Moxley to death with a golf club in wealthy Greenwich.

Skakel's lawyer told a three-judge panel that his client was 15 at the time and would have been tried in juvenile court where the maximum sentence would have been four years.

Skakel, cuffed and shackled while wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, maintains his innocence. He said he was "baffled'' by the legal process and pleaded with the judges to allow "the truth'' to come out. He said he prays for Moxley's mother every day.

The hearing Tuesday was only an appeal on the length of the sentence, and not an appeal of the conviction.

A prosecutor told the judges the sentence was appropriate and pointed out that Skakel could have been tried as an adult in 1975.

The judges did not immediately rule. A decision is expected in about two months.

Skakel is a nephew of Robert Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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