"Judge: Skakel P.I. Must Testify in Probe"
By J.A. Johnson Jr., Greenwich Time
A former private investigator who interviewed two Kennedy nephews in the 1975
Martha Moxley murder must appear this month before the Connecticut grand jury
that is probing the Greenwich girl's death, a New York judge ruled Friday.
The ruling by Suffolk County Judge Michael Mullen denied a motion by a lawyer
representing suspects Michael and Thomas Skakel to quash a subpoena - signed in
September by a Connecticut judge - that had been served to the investigator,
The Skakels are nephews of Ethel Skakel Kennedy, widow of U.S. Sen. Robert
Commack, N.Y., attorney Robert Gottlieb had argued in Suffolk County Court last
week that the subpoena should be quashed because Krebs interviewed the Skakel
brothers on behalf of the suspects' defense lawyers, making the interviews
confidential under the attorney-client privilege.
"This court refuses to do so," Mullen states in his two-page decision not to
quash the subpoena. "My judicial colleague in Connecticut is quite capable of
deciding whether the attorney-client (privilege) applies under the circumstances
of this case."
The judge's ruling orders Krebs to appear before the grand jury in Bridgeport on
Wednesday. According to Gottlieb, however, Krebs will be on vacation that date,
and he has reached an agreement with Connecticut State's Attorney Jonathan
Benedict that the witness will appear March 24 instead. Benedict, who is
assisting the grand jury, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Gottlieb said he plans on Monday to file an application to stay Mullen's order
pending an appeal with the state Supreme Court Appellate Division.
"Even if the New York Courts ultimately require Mr. Krebs' appearance in
Connecticut, I have great confidence that the Connecticut courts will never
authorize a breach in the attorney-client privilege," Gottlieb said.
Krebs is a former employee of the Jericho, N.Y., Sutton Associates private
detective agency, hired to investigate the Moxley murder in 1992 by lawyers
representing the Skakel brothers. Connecticut prosecutors allege that both
brothers significantly changed the alibis they had given police in 1975 when
Krebs interviewed them.
Michael and Thomas Skakel, who in 1975 were 15 and 17, respectively, were both
with Moxley the night their 15-year-old Greenwich neighbor was murdered,
according to police. Police identified the murder weapon as a 6-iron from a set
of golf clubs owned by the Skakel family, who lived across the street from the
Moxleys in Belle Haven.
Although police have said both Skakels initially claimed to have been nowhere
near the Oct. 30, 1975, crime scene, prosecutors allege that the brothers told
Krebs of either being at the crime scene or with the victim at the estimated
time of the murder.
Mullen states in his ruling that under New York law, courts must uphold another
state's subpoena when a judge from that state deems the requested witness
"material and necessary" for a grand jury investigation. He said that
requirement was met when Connecticut Superior Court Judge John Ronan signed
Krebs' subpoena on Sept. 22.
"That's what was done here," Mullen wrote. "Judge Ronan certified that Willis
Krebs was a material witness in a grand jury investigation in Connecticut ...
that his testimony was necessary there in Connecticut." Even so, the New York
judge took it upon himself to note that "it is clear from his affidavit that
Krebs' testimony would be material."
Last week, Krebs, a former New York City police officer who now works for the
Suffolk County district attorney's white-collar crime unit, submitted an
affidavit in which he stated that he had interviewed Thomas Skakel twice and
Michael Skakel once. The affidavit stated: "At the time of my investigation in
the (Moxley) case, I was an employee of Sutton Associates ... I always
participated in these conversations with the understanding that these
conversations were strictly confidential and protected under the attorney-client
and work product privileges."
Mullen further observed that it was the Skakels' lawyer who objected to the
subpoena, not the witness. "Interestingly, it was not Krebs who moved to quash,
but attorneys for the subjects of the investigation," Mullen wrote.