Michael Skakel has asked Connecticut’s Supreme Court to reconsider its recent decision to reinstate the Kennedy cousin’s overturned murder conviction for the 1975 killing of Martha Moxley, according to a pair of court motions filed last week.
PEOPLE obtained copies of both motions, which also request that a fresh vacancy on the Supreme Court be filled before the court begins considering the Friday filings.
In a split 4-3 decision issued Dec. 30, Connecticut’s Supreme Court determined the state’s Superior Court erred in its 2013 decision to overturn Skakel’s conviction.
The Superior Court had determined Skakel’s first trial lawyer failed to represent him adequately, and subsequently ordered a new trial for the 56-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel.
Skakel was freed on $1.2 million bond a month after his conviction was reversed. But prosecutors appealed that decision, asking the state’s Supreme Court to reject the lower court’s 2013 decision.
Skakel was convicted of Moxley’s murder in 2002 and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. He was Moxley’s neighbor in Greenwich, Connecticut, when the 15-year-old girl was bludgeoned to death with the shaft of a broken golf club.
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The recent motions state that Justice Peter Zarella — who wrote the majority decision to reinstate Skakel’s murder conviction — left the court at the end of 2016 to work for a private law firm, leaving the court one justice short.
“In deciding this case, the court constituted a panel of seven members, and a seventh member should be summoned as a replacement to ensure a full panel hears this crucial motion,” the motion reads. “In any other instance, a party requesting reconsideration or reargument of an appeal would enjoy a panel of the same size as that which heard the case.”
Skakel’s attorneys did not respond to PEOPLE’s calls and emails seeking comment.
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If the court does opt to reconsider its Dec. 30 ruling without first replacing Zarella, there would likely be a tie vote unless one of the justices changes positions — which would result in a rejection of Skakel’s motions. The court had voted 4-3 to reinstate the conviction.
Skakel’s attorneys have previously argued that Mickey Sherman, the trial attorney who represented their client during his 2002 trial, failed to reach out to a potential alibi witness, who could substantiate the defense’s claim that Skakel was several miles from the crime scene.
Sherman has consistently defended his representation of Skakel.