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Skakel sharply criticizes former lawyer in bid for new trial

VERNON, Conn. — The attorney who represented Michael Skakel during his Connecticut murder trial in 2002 took the stand Friday and defended the work he did for the Kennedy cousin, while also saying he still believes Skakel is innocent.

Skakel is challenging his conviction in Rockville Superior Court on the grounds that he was deprived of his constitutional right to effective legal representation.

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The 52-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel Kennedy, is serving 20 years to life for the 1975 golf club bludgeoning of Martha Moxley when they were 15-year-old neighbors in Greenwich.

Hearst Connecticut Newspapers reported Friday that Michael Sherman defended his work for Skakel 11 years ago and also testified that he believes his former client is innocent.

‘‘Mr. Skakel never admitted to me that he committed this crime and I still have that belief as well,’’ the newspaper said Sherman testified.

On the stand Thursday, Skakel launched a barrage of criticism against Sherman, portraying an overly confident lawyer having fun and basking in the limelight while making fundamental mistakes from poor jury picks to failing to track down key witnesses. Skakel also said Sherman took photos of the trial judge and jury with a pen camera and had him sign an autograph.

But Sherman on Friday denied he photographed the judge and jurors, and he responded to criticism that he failed to thoroughly investigate another possible suspect, saying that it would have been a waste of time because police had already ‘‘gone down that road.’’

When Skalel’s lawyer asked Sherman if he had ever joked that ‘‘I’m not a lawyer. I just play one on TV,’’ Sherman responded: ‘‘Sounds like something I could have done.’’

But he also insisted: ‘‘My allegiance was to Michael Skakel, only, and the rest of the family knew that.’’

Testimony ended Friday; a ruling is not expected for months.

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