Greenwich Time, January 18, 1999
Ruling due on Subpoena for key witness in Moxley case
by J.A. Johnson Jr., Greenwich Time

Connecticut prosecutors this. week may get a second shot at having a New York judge enforce a subpoena ordering a Long Island private detective to testify before a grand jury about his firm's investigation of the 1975 Martha Moxley murder.

Nassau County Judge Jerald Carter earlier this month nixed a Connecticut subpoena for Sutton Associates President James Murphy. But prosecutors are hoping to be more successful this week when Suffolk County Judge Michael Mullen is expected to convene a hearing on a summons for a former employee of Murphy.

The hearing had originally been scheduled for Dec. 3, but Mullen adjourned the matter to see how Carter would rule. The adjournment was requested by attorney Robert Gottlieb, who represents Moxley murder suspects Michael and Thomas Skakel. If Carter had ruled against his clients and Mullen followed suit, both decions would have been contested in a combined appeal, Gottlieb said.

Gottlieb on Thursday said he had informed Mullen of the Nassau judge's decision and that Mullen indicated he would convene a hearing this week on the subpoena that was issued to Willis Krebs, who interviewed the Skakel brothers while employed by Sutton Associates, a Jericho, N.Y. based private investigations firm.

Although both Skakel brothers have maintained their innocence, Connecticut prosecutors allege they significantly changed the alibis they gave police in 1975 when interviewed by Sutton Associates invesigators, who were hired by the Skakels' lawyers in 1992 in preparation for a possible criminal defense.

In a 13-page ruling against the subpoena, Carter said Connecticut prosecutors failed during a Dec. 2 court hearing to present evidence that Murphy was a material wittiess.

At that hearing Murphy, a former FBI agent, testified that he had no direct knowledge of the Skakel brothers' statements because he had not participated in their interviews.

Murphy testified that the interviews were conducted by Krebs, who was a New York City police leutenant before working for Sutton 'Associates. He is now a white-collar crime investigator with the Suffolk County district attorney's office.

State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict, who is assisting the Connecticut grand jury, said last week that he had not decided whether to appeal the Nassau judge's ruling.

Benedict has sought both Murphy and Krebs as witnesses because, he alleged in court documents, Michael and Thomas Skakel told the investigators of being with Moxley at about the time their 15-year-old neighbor was murdered or of being near the crime scene shortly afterward. Police identified the murder weapon as a 6-iron from a set of clubs owned by the Skakel family.

According to police reports, - Thomas Skakel, then 17, told police he left Moxley at 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 30, 1975, to go home and write a book report for school, which was later determined to never have been assigned.

In an affidavit filed with the Nassau court, Benedict stated that Thomas Skakel told a Sutton Associates investigator that on the night of the murder, he and Moxley had a sexual encounter behind the Skakel house that began at about 9:30 p.m. or 9:35 p.m. and lasted about 20 minutes. Police established the girl's death to have been at about 9:50 p.m.

According to the affidavit, Michael Skakel, then 15, told authorities that on the night of the murder, he last saw Moxley at about 9:30 p.m. when he left her outside his residence to drive a cousin home and that he went directly to bed upon returning home at about 11:30 p.m., where he remained until the following morning.

Go To Main Page