private investigator in Moxley case
By Denise Lavoie, Associated Press
A New York judge on Friday refused to honor a Connecticut subpoena ordering James Murphy to appear before the Bridgeport grand jury hearing evidence in the murder of Martha Moxley.
The judge said Connecticut prosecutors had not shown that Murphy's testimony was essential to the Moxley investigation. Prosecutors said they may appeal the decision.
The grand jury wants to question Murphy, a former FBI agent who founded Jericho, N.Y.-based Sutton Associates, about his firm's work for the Skakel family.
Thomas Skakel, then 17, and his brother, Michael, then 15, both nephews of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, have been identified by authorities as suspects in Moxley's killing.
Murphy's firm was hired in 1992 as the Skakel family attempted to gather evidence to prove the boys' innocence.
However, a Sutton report, first described in a 1995 story in Newsday, revealed that both brothers had changed their stories about their movements the night of Moxley's murder.
Although both boys maintained their innocence, their new accounts differed sharply from the accounts they gave to police in 1975.
Moxley was beaten to death with a golf club on Oct. 30, 1975. Her body was found the next day on her family's Greenwich estate. The 6-iron used to kill her belonged to a set owned by the Skakel family, who lived near the Moxleys in the exclusive Belle Haven section of Greenwich.
During a hearing last month at the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola, N.Y., Murphy said he was hired by attorneys for the Skakel boys, and therefore any work he did is protected by attorney-client privilege.
Connecticut prosecutors argued that Sutton Associates was retained by Thomas and Michael Skakel's father, Rushton Skakel Sr., who is the brother of Ethel Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy's widow.
They said Murphy's testimony is important to the grand jury because he participated in interviews of Michael and Thomas in which both boys significantly changed their stories.
Murphy, however, testified at last month's hearing that he had never participated in an interview or had any conversation at all with Michael Skakel. He said he had participated in an interview of Thomas Skakel.
In a 13-page decision released Friday, Judge Jerald Carter cited that testimony. Carter said that because there appeared to be no actual conversations between Murphy and Skakel, the state had failed to establish that Murphy's testimony is necessary to the grand jury investigation.
The judge said the earlier hearing testimony had, however, established that two other investigators at Sutton Associates ``are witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the alleged Skakel interviews.''
One of the investigators, Willis Krebs, who now works in the Suffolk County, N.Y., District Attorney's Office, is also fighting his subpoena to testify before the grand jury.
Michael Sherman, a Stamford attorney who represents Michael Skakel, called the ruling a major victory.
``The bottom line is that the state is going to have to ... conduct this investigation in an appropriate manner and not attempt to run roughshod over principles such as attorney-client privilege and out-of-state subpoenas,'' Sherman said.
Bridgeport State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict said he had not yet seen the judge's decision and would have to review it before deciding whether to appeal.
He said he also wants to wait until two other New York courts decide on the Krebs' subpoena as well as a subpoena issued to Thomas Sheridan, a Stamford attorney who represented Michael Skakel.
``At that point, we'll see where we go from there,'' Benedict said.