By Gregory B. Hladky
3:07 PM EST, November 7, 2013
Something's been bothering me for a while now about the fact that Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel is getting a new trial that will give him a chance to overturn his conviction in the Martha Moxley murder.
It's not that Skakel is getting a retrial. No, my difficult is that George Gould can't.
Skakel is a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy. He's a white man from a rich Greenwich family. He was convicted in 2002 of the beating death of Martha Moxley when both were teenagers in 1975, a murder he's always denied committing.
A judge in his case recently ruled that Skakel didn't get a fair trial because his celebrity lawyer, Michael "Mickey" Sherman, failed to give him a proper defense in his murder trial. Skakel is now attempting to get out of prison on bail, having already served about half his 20-years-to-life sentence.
George Gould has been trying to get a new trial for a long time. He is a black man from inner-city New Haven. He was convicted, with another black man named Ron Taylor, of killing a bodega owner in 1993. There was no physical evidence and the key witness in the case was a drug-addicted prostitute who originally placed Gould and Taylor at the scene when Eugenio DeLeon Vega as shot to death.
New Haven cops and prosecutors insisted it was robbery-murder, but Vega was left with $1,810 in his pocket.
The prostitute later said police pressured her into fingering Gould and Taylor. Defense attorneys in the case came up with another suspect, Vega's son, a convicted sex offender who allegedly stole thousands of dollars from the bodega's bank account.
A judge in 2010 threw out their convictions, saying a "manifest injustice" had been done. The Connecticut Supreme Court later reversed that finding, ordered a new hearing, at which another judge ruled that Gould and Taylor hadn't absolutely proved their innocence.
Taylor was allowed to die of colon cancer at home. Gould is back in prison, awaiting an appeal. A private detective in his case has just been convicted of witness tampering in an attempt to get that former prostitute to change her story - something the woman denies.
Do you suppose that Skakel will be required now to offer "affirmative evidence" that he is innocent of the Moxley murder? That was the standard required to clear Taylor and Gould, according to the state Supreme Court.
Oh wait, that was simply what was needed in order to get Gould and Taylor a new trial. Skakel is already getting his.
It's true state prosecutors are now appealing the decision to give Skakel a re-trial. We'll have to see how that goes.
There have been books and TV movies about the Skakel-Moxley case, understandable since it involved wealthy white folks from Greenwich who were related to the Kennedys.
No books have been written or movies made about George Gould and Ron Taylor and the murder of Eugenio DeLeon Vega. Do you suppose that's because it was a crime involving poor people of color in a gritty city neighborhood?
And if there had been a movie or a book, would that have helped Gould and Taylor get a new trial?
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