I am certain after reading this book, that Robert Kennedy, Jr. truly believes that his cousin Michael Skakel is not quilty of murdering Martha Moxley. On the other hand, it's not a slam dunk that's he's innocent either. Now released from prison until he can be retried, Skakel spend over 10 years in prison for a crime which he claims he did not commit and Kennedy has come up with a witness who claims to know who did kill that girl. But the book has several potential killers mentioned long before the final chapters which talk about this new witness and his alleged killer friends. Early on his own brother, Tommy was a suspect and lied to the police and was known to be home and with Martha shortly before her murder Next we hear about the tutor Ken Littleton whom Kennedy suggests may be a serial killer as many woman have died in or near towns where he resided over the last forty years. There are a few more theories thrown out based on the seemingly inept police investigation at the time, including her own brother as a named suspect. So throughout the book RFK, jr. jumps from one suspect to another and then blows it all up with the theory that some kids from outside the posh neighborhood came into it to raise hell the night before Halloween and payback Martha for a perceived slight to one of the boys. Well good luck Michael Skakel in your new trial but I found the story didn't pass the smell test.
I was on side with Kennedy in the first part of this fascinating story when he elaborated on the background circumstances of the murder of Martha Moxley back in October 1975. He made a strong case, to start with, that the district prosecutor in his cousin's murder trial did a less than effective job in investigating the facts of the crime scene. Everything, as he sees it, seems to point to a rush to judgment, with a focus on getting a conviction before testing all the evidence, especially the bloody golf club head, and the interviewing of all eleven suspects. What better fall guy than young, inchoate Michael Skakel whose social awkwardness and below average intellectual skills made him vulnerable. Yes, the Skakel boys and friends were there with young Martha that fateful night but, due to sloppy police work, Michael became the only viable suspect when it came to piecing together the events of the evening. After the author believes that Michael couldn't have possibly done the terrible deed, based on time, space, and his benign personality, he then switches to look at the remaining cast of suspects. The tutor, certain household staff, the other Skakel brothers and friends, and several locals come under Kennedy's narrow scrutiny as people the prosecution chose not to look at because they already had their man. This is where Kennedy's efforts to exonerate Michael seem to fall apart. If there are other credible suspects out there, you would think Kennedy would settle on one or two worth pursuing, but he doesn't. After reading what Kennedy has on these potential killers, I get the feeling that he hasn't enough evidence to implicate any of them, resorting instead to offering an outlier theory involving a group of teens from out of town. While I accept that Skakel might not have murdered Martha - the courts have recently ordered a retrial - the author has not made a convincing case as to where and to whom the trail of evidence actually leads. Maybe, just maybe, what Kennedy learns in his noble attempts to defend Michael takes him a lot closer to the truth than what he would like. After all, he is a Skakel on his mother's side and there were other Skakels on the grounds that night. Perhaps the real reason why this case has been so frustrating and controversial from the beginning is that the justice system and the public have not been able to break through a conspiracy of silence. Consequently, well intentioned crusaders like Kennedy have no choice but to ultimately opt for rumor-driven explanations to round out their argument for justice. It sounds a little overdone, if you ask me.