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
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
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
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.