Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel was denied parole Wednesday for the 1975 murder of neighbor Martha Moxley.
Skakel, a nephew of Ethel Skakel Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, is next eligible to be paroled in 2017.
During his parole hearing, Skakel, 52, contended he was innocent of killing Moxley in Greenwich, Conn., in 1975. Although the murder occurred 37 years ago, Skakel was indicted for the crime and convicted in 2002 after a book about Moxley’s murder was published and through statements he made while in rehab.
"I did not commit this crime,” Skakel told the parole board at the McDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Conn., CBS News reported. "I know the best chance of me getting parole is admitting guilt in this crime. Ten-and-a-half years later I cannot do that."
Moxley’s mother, Dorthy Moxley, attended Skakel’s parole hearing.
“Martha, my baby, will never have a life,” she told the parole board, according to the Associated Press.
The Kennedy cousin referred to her during his insistence that he did not kill her daughter.
“If I could ease Mrs. Moxley’s pain in any way, shape or form I would take responsibility all day long for this crime,” Skakel said, according to the New Haven Register. But “I cannot bear false witness against myself.”
Skakel, a recovering alcoholic, said his effort to stay sober for 30 years was evidence that he didn’t commit the murder.
“I pose to you: How can a guilty man stay sober for 30 years with that kind of guilt on his mind?” he told the parole hearing.
There were a number of letters of support written on Skakel’s behalf, including from his cousin Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Kennedy wrote that Skakel “has helped alcoholics recover,” according to the New Haven Register.
But there were other letters insisting Skakel never be released from prison.
“This person committed a heinous crime that gave many people a sentence of suffering that was irreversible,” wrote one person in support of the 20 years-to-life prison term. “Why then should this person be given relief, when none is available for those who suffered the loss of a daughter, a sister, a dear friend.”
Erika Tindill, chairwoman of the parole board, questioned why Skakel was arguing for early release while still maintaining his innocence, the AP reported. Parole boards usually take remorse and admission of guilt into account when determining if they are a candidate for release.
Supporters of both Skakel and Moxley held press conferences following the hearing.
John Moxley, Martha’s brother, said Skakel deserves to be in prison for life.
“There’s no upside in this. So what? He’s got another five years in prison. What does that do for Martha? It’s a hollow victory,” he said, according to the AP.
Skakel’s lawyer, Hope Seeley, said she was disappointed with the board’s decision, contending her client is not a danger to society.
“To incarcerate Michael Skakel for at least another five years compounds the miscarriage of justice that has already occurred in this case,” she said.
During the hearing, Skakel said his attorney at trial, Mickey Sherman, did not do an adequate job of representing him. Sherman responded by saying he did everything he could in defending the Kennedy cousin.