Skakel files appeal of decision to try him as a juvenile
By Denise Lavoie, Associated Press

STAMFORD, Conn. -- An attorney for Kennedy nephew Michael Skakel is appealing a judge's decision to try Skakel as an adult in the 1975 killing of his teen-age neighbor.

Both Skakel and the victim, Martha Moxley, were 15 at the time of the killing.

Skakel was arrested a little over a year ago. His case was originally heard in juvenile court. But Judge Maureen Dennis ruled two weeks ago that he should face trial as an adult because the state has no juvenile facility where it could send Skakel, now 40, if convicted.

Skakel's lawyer, Michael Sherman, filed a notice of appeal of the decision in Stamford Juvenile Court Wednesday. Sherman said he plans to file a full appeal with the state Appellate Court by the end of the week.

"The state claims that he committed a crime when he was 15 years old. He should be treated as any other person would have been at that time. It's not his fault that there's been a 25-year delay in this arrest," Sherman said.

"When all is said and done we're sending him to the adult court because there's no room at the inn. It's not because of a finding that he's a danger to the community. We're sending him to the adult court because we don't know where to put him."

During hearings last year, Sherman argued vehemently against moving the case to adult court, where Skakel faces much stiffer penalties. As a juvenile, the maximum penalty he could receive under the law in effect in 1975 is four years. For adults, the law set a range of 10 years to life in prison.

At the time of the killing in 1975, prosecutors had the right to seek to transfer murder cases to adult court if the defendant was age 14 or over, but such transfers only became automatic after a state law was passed in 1995.

Prosecutor Jonathan Benedict could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday on the appeal.

But he said in an earlier interview that prosecutors would move to dismiss any appeal because they believe the law in 1975 did not allow appeals for transfers of juvenile cases.

Moxley was killed on Oct. 30, 1975, after an evening of pre-Halloween fun with a group of teen-age friends, including Skakel and his older brother, Thomas, then 17. Her body was found the next day on her family's estate in Greenwich.

The Skakels lived across the street from the Moxleys in the upscale gated community of Belle Haven in Greenwich. Skakel is the son of Rushton Skakel Sr., the brother of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel.

The 6-iron golf club used in the killing was matched to a set of golf clubs owned by the Skakel family.

No arrests were made in the case for more than 24 years. Skakel was charged in January 2000 following an investigation by a one-judge grand jury.

Skakel is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 21 in adult court. It was not immediately clear if the appeal would delay the arraignment.



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