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October 30, 1975: In the town of Greenwich, Connecticut, the night before Halloween was commonly known as "mischief night" or sometimes "doorbell night". On this particular evening, 15-year-old Martha Moxley, and her friends, set out for an night of harmless pranks; spraying shaving cream, throwing eggs and toilet paper around the neighborhood before stopping at the home of Tommy and Michael Skakel.
The Skakel brothers were well know in the neighborhood for their behavior and lack of discipline -- and also because they were the nephews of Ethel Skakel-Kennedy, widow of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
The Moxley's and Skakel's lived in Belle Haven, a gated community in Greenwich, an affluent area of town where Hollywood actors live and former President George Bush grew up.
Sometime between 9:30 and 11 p.m. that night, Martha left the Skakel house. Home was only 150 yards away, but Martha never made it. Martha's body was found the next day under a tree in her back yard. Her jeans and underwear had been pulled down, but there was no apparent evidence of sexual assault. She had been beaten so hard with a 6-iron that the shaft had shattered. A jagged piece of it was used to stab her through the neck. Police later learned that the club was part an expensive, Toney Penna, set which had belonged to Tommy and Michael Skakel's mother Anne. Mrs. Skakel had died of cancer two years earlier leaving her husband Rushton to raise their large and reportedly unruly family. Their son, Tommy, then 17, was said to be the last person seen with Martha. According to Martha's diary, she had fended off several past attempts by Skakel to "get to first and second base," said Martha's mother, Dorthy Moxley. The day Martha's battered body was found, Greenwich police did a cursory search of the house with Rushton Skakel's permission, but they never obtained a warrant to do a thorough search. This lack of a warrant in the investigation led to accusations of "special treatment" for the well-connected, influential family.
The Skakels stopped cooperating with police in early 1976 and have since refused to be interviewed. Emanuel Margolis, the family's attorney, said Tommy Skakel, now in his early 40's and living in Massachusetts, has always insisted he had nothing to do with the murder.
But police had other suspects besides the Skakels. They questioned a young neighbor of the Moxley's and a 24-year-old tutor living with the Skakel's. They also considered transients off Interstate 95. "We have a circumstantial evidence case, with no witnesses," said Donald Browne, the Special State Prosecutor. "Unfortunately, we have circumstances that point in several different directions." Perhaps new DNA tests done on evidence from Martha's clothing will point investigators in a certain direction, he said.
For years nothing was mentioned about the case publicly. Residents of Greenwich didn't speak of the terrible crime which had gone unsolved. Meanwhile, in 1983, the Greenwich Time/Stamford Advocate hired a freelance writer named Len Levitt to write an article on the case. The article appeared to be "so controversial" at the time that the publishers shelved it until 1991 when a rumor started floating around Greenwich that William Kennedy Smith -- then facing a rape charge on which he was acquitted in Palm Beach, Florida -- knew something about the murder. This rumor proved to be untrue, but sparked curiosity into Martha's unsolved murder. The article stirred new public interest.
The case regained national attention in 1993 when "A Season in Purgatory," Dominick Dunne's best-selling novel based on the murder, was published. Dunne, who later wrote extensively about the O.J. Simpson trial, encouraged Mark Fuhrman to investigate the case.
Throughout the years Greenwich Police and the State Prosecutor never stopped searching for clues. But leads were few and far between, and the investigation appeared to be going nowhere.
In September 1994, Detective Frank Garr retired from the Greenwich Police Department. Garr left to take a job with the State Prosecutors Office as an Investigator, taking the Moxley file with him to work on the case full time.
Several years later, former Los Angeles police detective Mark Fuhrman started to write a book about the case. Fuhrman had gained notoriety when his controversial testimony allegedly tainted the prosecutions' case against O.J. Simpson. Throughout his investigation of Martha's murder Fuhrman promised that "Murder in Greenwich" would name the killer.
But Greenwich authorities did not welcome this "outsider". "I have no reason to talk to Mark Fuhrman," snapped one investigator who refused Fuhrman's request for an interview. Authorities told Fuhrman they wouldn't cooperate because they did not want to jeopardize their ongoing investigation. "What they are actually doing." Fuhrman said, "is hiding old mistakes." "If you know there was a mistake and you leave it that way because you won't allow yourself to say or admit that you made a mistake, then that's a catastrophic mistake," he said.
Retired police Detective Stephen Carroll, one of the few cooperating with Fuhrman, agreed that investigators made mistakes but insisted the Skakel's did not get special treatment. "Mistakes happened," Carroll said. "Because of inexperience." The department had not handled a murder in 30 years.
"I think it was bungled from the first moment," Author Dominick Dunne said. "It was a small community then. And this was an amazingly rich family."
Fuhrman's interest in the case gave Moxley's family new hope that the murderer will finally be brought to justice. "He really has stirred things up, and if he can focus attention on the case, we're grateful to him," said the victim's mother, Dorthy Moxley. "That's my life, these days," she said. "The hope that someday we'll know who did this."
Fuhrman's book "Murder in Greenwich" was released in 1998 and publicly named Tommy's younger brother Michael Skakel as the prime suspect.
At the same time another book - "Greentown" - was published. Written by Greenwich native, Timothy Dumas - also pointed to the possible involvement of one of the Skakel brothers in the crime.
In May 1998, a three-judge panel approved prosecutors' request for a grand jury investigation. The state's chief court administrator then appointed Bridgeport Superior Court Judge George N. Thim to investigate evidence gathered by the Greenwich Police and the State Attorney's office.
Such grand juries, it should be noted, are rare in Connecticut and are only used when other investigative procedures have failed. As the grand jury, Judge Thim is able to subpoena witnesses to testify about the killing. Prosecutors in Connecticut do not have subpoena power and have complained they have been paralyzed in the Moxley case because they have been unable to force witnesses and suspects to speak with them.
The grand jury interviewed more than 50 witnesses in connection to the case. Some reportedly, former residents and staff of the Elan School in Poland Springs, Maine, where Michael Skakel allegedly confessed to the murder while undergoing rehab.
The grand jury held hearings, behind closed doors for 18 months, officially ended on December 10, 1999. Judge Thim then had 60 days to decide whether he believed there is enough evidence to make an arrest.
On January 19, 2000, at a 9:00 a.m. conference held in Bridgeport, Connecticut, prosecutors announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for "an unnamed juvenile". Attorney Mickey Sherman told reporters that his client, Michael Skakel, was the person in question - and that Skakel was on his way to Connecticut to surrender to authorities.
Later that same day, Michael Skakel surrendered to Frank Garr of the State Prosecutors Office at the Greenwich Police Department. Skakel was booked on charges of murder (as a juvenile) and posted $500,000 bail before being released.
May 4, 2002 a trial held in Norwalk, CT which took four weeks.
June 7, 2002: After four days of deliberations, the jury found
Michael Skakel Guilty as Charged.
Bail was revoked and Michael was confined to Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown, Connecticut, awaiting sentencing on August 9, 2002.
Mickey Sherman imediately announced that he will appeal!
August 29, 2002: After two days in court, Michael Skakel is sentenced to 20 years to Life in Prison.
January 14, 2006: The Connecticut State Supreme Court unanimously upheld the murder conviction of Michael Skakel.
October 26, 2007: A Connecticut State judge Rejected Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel's bid for a new criminal trial based on his claim of new evidence, discarding it as a flimsy theory that implicated two Bronx, N.Y., teenagers in 15-year-old Martha Moxley.
Western Junior H.S. 1974-75 and Greenwich H.S. 1975.