"Judge Wants Records before Enforcing P.I.'s Subpoena"
By J.A. Johnson Jr., Greenwich Time
RIVERHEAD, N.Y. - A Suffolk County judge said yesterday he wants to read
transcripts of another court's hearing before he'll consider enforcement of a
Connecticut subpoena seeking the grand jury testimony of a former private
investigator who worked on behalf of two suspects in the 1975 Martha Moxley
Judge Michael Mullen postponed yesterday's scheduled hearing until next month,
by which time he said he will have read transcripts of a previous court hearing.
In that hearing, a Nassau County judge ruled that the testimony of the private
detective's former employer was not essential to the Moxley investigation.
Connecticut prosecutors had sought testimony from both Sutton Associates owner
James Murphy and former employee Willis Krebs, based on allegations that while
investigating the Moxley murder for defense attorneys, suspects Michael and
Thomas Skakel significantly changed their alibis.
In his ruling last month, Nassau County Judge Jerald Carter said because there
appeared to have been no actual conversation between Murphy and the Skakel
brothers, Connecticut authorities failed to establish that Murphy was a material
witness. In that same ruling, however, Carter said that hearings over which he
presided established that two other Sutton Associates investigators - including
Krebs - "are witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the alleged Skakel
Murphy, a former New York City police officer and FBI special agent, was
president of the Bishop Services Inc. detective agency when hired in 1992 by an
attorney representing Michael Skakel. He remained that lawyer's investigator
upon leaving the firm in 1993 to found Sutton Associates, after which time he
was also retained by Thomas Skakel's attorney.
Robert Gottlieb, a Commack, N.Y., attorney who represents the Skakels, is
seeking to quash Krebs' subpoena - which is now before Mullen - on the basis
that any information he gathered while working for the Skakel defense attorneys
is privileged. Gottlieb yesterday told Mullen that he plans to call Krebs - who
now works for the white-collar crime unit of the Suffolk County District
Attorney's Office - as his only witness when the hearing is held March 3.
In the previous ruling, Carter said the claimed attorney-client privilege is a
matter that should be decided in Connecticut Superior Court.
Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Karen Petterson, who is representing
Connecticut in the Suffolk court, said she did not plan on calling witnesses.
"This matter should not even reach that level to where witnesses are called,"
Petterson told the judge. In an interview afterward, Petterson said witnesses
were not planned because it is usually routine for judges of one state to uphold
another state's subpoena in criminal matters.
Connecticut prosecutors are seeking Krebs' testimony because, they allege in
court documents, Michael and Thomas Skakel told Sutton Associates investigators
that they were either with Moxley at about the time she was murdered or were
near the crime scene shortly afterward. Police have identified the murder weapon
as a 6-iron from a set of golf clubs owned by the Skakel family.
According to police reports, Thomas Skakel, then 17, told police he left Moxley,
his 15-year-old neighbor, at 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 30, 1975, to go home and write a
book report for school. Investigators later determined he had no such
In an affidavit filed with the Nassau court, Connecticut State's Attorney
Jonathan Benedict states 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 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
The affidavit further states that during his interview with a Sutton Associates
investigator, however, the younger Skakel brother said that about 10 minutes
after returning home from his cousin's, he went back out and spied on a
neighbor, then climbed a tree by the Moxley home near what he thought was
Martha's window, where he masturbated. He then went home past the spot where the
girl's body was discovered, entering his room through a second-floor window.