Skakel will file for dismissal
By J.A. Johnson Jr. - Greenwich Time
A day after Michael Skakel was arraigned for the 1975 murder of Greenwich teenager Martha Moxley, Skakel's attorney said he planned to file a motion to have his client's case dismissed.
A similar bid failed when Skakel's case was in juvenile court, but defense attorney Michael Sherman yesterday said he intended to file an amended motion, possibly as early as next week, now that Skakel is an adult court defendant.
Last month, juvenile court Judge Maureen Dennis declined to act on Skakel's June 20 motion to dismiss, ruling the motion was "premature," since he cited legal justification for dismissal that applied only to adult defendants.
Sherman said he will be making the motion on the basis of the statute of limitations that was in effect on Oct. 30, 1975, when it is alleged Skakel murdered his 15-year-old neighbor with a golf club. Before the law was amended in 1976, the statute of limitations on bringing a charge for any felony offense was five years. The revised law imposes no time constraints for prosecuting Class A felonies, the most serious of crimes such as murder and rape.
But, according to Sherman, his amended motion will argue that Skakel should not be penalized because the state took so long to make an arrest in the Greenwich girl's 1975 murder.
"It's not fair to wait 25 years before charging someone," Sherman said.
To illustrate his argument, Sherman pointed to the recent death of Joseph Ricci, owner of Elan School, the substance abuse rehabilitation center where Skakel allegedly confessed to murdering Moxley while he was there for alcohol abuse. Although witnesses testified in a preliminary juvenile court hearing that they heard the confessions, Ricci had maintained Skakel never said anything incriminating during his stay at the Poland Spring, Maine, rehabilitation center, from 1978 to 1980.
"Here was someone who was very important to the defense of Michael Skakel, and he died of natural causes 25 years after the crime," Sherman said. "It's to the detriment of a criminal defendant when he no longer has the ability to muster the appropriate witnesses by reason of the state having waited so long."
Sherman said other grounds for dismissal will be cited in the motion, but he declined to state what they were.
Skakel was arrested in January 2000 and was referred to the Juvenile Matters division of Superior Court because he was 15 at the time Moxley was murdered. After holding a "reasonable cause" hearing and determining there was sufficient evidence for Skakel to stand trial, Dennis on Jan. 31 ordered Skakel's case transferred to adult court. She stated in that same ruling that she had declined to act on Skakel's motion to dismiss.
An appeal of the transfer was filed last week and is pending with the Appellate Court in Hartford.
A probable cause hearing, similar to the reasonable cause hearing in juvenile court, is scheduled for April 18.
Another hearing, set for Wednesday, will be held to determine whether Skakel's case will continue to be prosecuted in Superior Court in Stamford, or in Bridgeport, where Skakel would have been prosecuted had he been arrested in 1975.