updated 11/13/2006 10:55:13 AM ET 2006-11-13T15:55:13

The Supreme Court declined Monday to hear an appeal by Kennedy relative Michael Skakel seeking to overturn his conviction for the 1975 murder of his 15-year-old neighbor Martha Moxley.

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The justices refused to consider Skakel's argument that his constitutional rights had been violated because Connecticut's five-year statute of limitations, in place at the time Moxley died, had expired when he was charged in 2000.

Skakel, the nephew of Sen. Robert Kennedy's widow, Ethel, was 15 at the time of the murder. He is serving a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.

Moxley's body was found on the lawn of her parents' home in the affluent town of Greenwich, Connecticut, next door to the Skakel house. She had been bludgeoned with a golf club that matched a set belonging to Skakel's late mother.

According to prosecutors, Skakel had a romantic interest in Moxley and became jealous when he saw her flirting with his older brother, Thomas Skakel, on the evening of the murder.

The Connecticut Supreme Court upheld Skakel's conviction.

Argument for appeal
The state eliminated the statute of limitations for murder in 1976. The state high court ruled that because the statute of limitations on Moxley's murder had not run out at the time the law was changed, that the change applied to Skakel's crime.

The state high court overruled two of its prior decisions which had held that the law did not apply to offenses committed before 1976.

Skakel's attorneys, led by former top Bush administration lawyer Theodore Olson, argued the state failed to bring a case against him until almost 20 years after the statute of limitations had expired.

The appeal cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2003 in a California case that barred states from authorizing criminal prosecutions when the charging deadline had passed.

Prosecutors opposed the appeal and said Skakel's rights were not violated. "Suffice it to say, a careful review of the record reveals overwhelming evidence of (his) guilt," they told the Supreme Court.

Kennedy curse
The murder case, which attracted international attention, added to the aura of tragedy haunting America's most celebrated political family some four decades after the assassinations of its most famous scions, President John Kennedy and his brother Robert.

Over the years, Kennedy family members have faced battles involving alcoholism, drug addiction, suicides, arrests, courtroom dramas and tragic deaths.

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