"Paperwork Delay Pushes Back Skakel Sr. Appeal"
By J.A. Johnson Jr., Greenwich Time
Originally printed Sunday February 14, 1999

The wait for a grand jury appearance by the father of two suspects in the 1975 slaying of Greenwich teenager Martha Moxley just got a little longer.

Because of a delay in the transfer of documents between Florida courts, Thursday's deadline for filing briefs in the appeal of a Connecticut subpoena for Rushton Skakel Sr. was extended at least 30 days, according to Skakel's attorney, Richard Lubin of Palm Beach, Fla.

Skakel is the brother of Ethel Skakel Kennedy. His sons, Michael and Thomas, are the only identified suspects in the Oct. 30, 1975 murder of 15-year-old Moxley.

Skakel's attorneys are contesting the subpoena on the grounds that Skakel - a former resident of Greenwich's affluent Belle Haven neighborhood who now lives in Hobe Sound, Fla. - is mentally incompetent. In upholding the subpoena, Martin County, Fla., Judge John Fennelly had ordered Skakel to appear before the grand jury in Bridgeport on Dec. 11, but a stay on that order was issued when Skakel's filed an appeal.

Although Thursday was the deadline for briefs in the appeal, Lubin said his office had yet to receive transcripts and court filings from the Oct. 16 hearing that resulted in Fennelly's ruling. he said there had been a delay in transferring the documents from Martin County District Court to the Florida 4th District Court of Appeals. "This type of delay is not an unusual occurrence," Lubin said Friday.

Because Lubin had yet to receive documents needed for writing an appeals brief, the attorney said, a motion for a 30-day extension for filing the briefs was granted last week. The extension does not begin until Skakel's attorney receives the documents, which Lubin said he expects shortly.

In documents filed with the Martin County court, Connecticut prosecutors say Skakel is needed as a material witness because he attended a meeting at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Maine during which his son, Michael, allegedly made admissions concerning Moxley's murder.

Police have said Michael and Thomas Skakel, then 15 and 17, respectively, were with Moxley the night she was bludgeoned and stabbed with a 6-iron from a set of golf clubs owned by the Skakel family, who at the time lived across the street from the Moxleys.

In his Nov. 10 ruling, Fennelly said the testimony of several witnesses called to the stand by Lubin - including Skakel's wife, priest, maid and physicians - failed to prove that Skakel is incompetent. The judge noted that he never had the chance to see the elder Skakel's "ability to observe and recollect facts" because he was never called as a witness on his own behalf.

Fennelly further stated the seriousness of the crime being investigated outweighs any hardship the prospective witness might endure, noting that Connecticut authorities allege in two affidavits that the elder Skakel "has made a statement indicating his knowledge of the perpetrator."