Martha Moxley's Family Speaks Out on Robert Kennedy's New Book Claiming His Cousin Is Innocent of Murder: 'This Isn't Easy'

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s new book 'Framed' presents what he claims is new evidence that clears his cousin Michel Skakel

Photo: Courtesy Erik Freeland

Four decades ago, Dorthy Moxley’s life was forever changed when her 15-year-old daughter, Martha, was brutally murdered on a cool fall evening.

It wasn’t until 2000 that Michael Skakel, a cousin of the Kennedy family, was charged with her murder. He was convicted of the crime in 2002, but he has long maintained his innocence, and in 2013, his conviction was set aside when a judge ruled his original defense attorney was inadequate.

Dorthy Moxley and Martha’s brother, John, say they’ve been tormented by Skakel’s steadfast insistence he was wrongly convicted. Both still believe investigators got the right man for the gruesome murder, in which Moxley was bludgeoned with a golf club and stabbed in the neck with its broken shaft.

“I believe Michael is the one who swung the club,” Dorthy Moxley tells PEOPLE. “It has been 41 years since Martha died. When you gather all this information for that long a time, you get to a point where you put it all together and it just fits. Soon after Martha’s murder, we offered a $100,000 reward offered for any information that would lead to the arrest of whoever murdered Martha. All the tips we received were about Michael.”

According to John, all of the evidence the state presented during Skakel’s trial reinforced his opinion that Skakel killed his sister.

“You sit there and you listen to everything they had to say, and it was compelling,” John tells PEOPLE.

In his forthcoming book Framed, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., presents what he claims is new evidence that clears Skakel, his cousin. The book suggests investigators had much stronger evidence against other persons of interest in the case but instead focused almost exclusively on Skakel.

The book, which hits stands next week, offers up the names of two other people Kennedy believes should have been suspects.

“I have been jokingly telling my friend I think I will write a book, and it will be called ‘Abused,'” Dorthy Moxley says. “It isn’t easy for victims. I am a victim, John is a victim. It is not easy to do this over and over again.

“The only reason I speak about the case is so many people worked so hard for so long, and the state of Connecticut spent so much money. Everyone was so kind and good and nice that I have to do this. I am supporting the prosecution until the day I die, as well as the people in the media and the police. I am a victim.”

For more on Martha Moxley’s murder and suspect Michael Skakel, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

John tells PEOPLE while he believes Skakel was definitely involved in Moxley’s killing, he thinks it’s possible he had help.

“There had to have been someone else involved, and I think it was someone in the family,” he says.

The Moxleys are hoping the release of Framed will jog someone’s memory and compel a potential witness to come forward with information that would vindicate Skakel’s original conviction.

“It’s been difficult for us, but one of the interesting things about this book coming out is there’s a good chance it will come out and someone will say, ‘Enough is enough: This is what I know and have kept to myself all these years,'” John says.

As Skakel awaits Judge Thomas Bishop’s decision on his appeal seeking a new trial, John warns the judge’s ruling could be precedent-setting.

“Michael has used every legal maneuver available to him under the law,” John tells PEOPLE. “We disagree with Judge Bishop that Michael had ineffective counsel. If the court lets that stand, they will be setting the bar so low for what ineffective counsel is that it will have repercussions in a very broad basis.

“We are certainly hoping the court will overturn Bishop’s decision and put him back in jail where he belongs.”

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