Onlookers see hearing as Ďhuman interestí occasion
By Cameron Martin - Greenwich Time
STAMFORD - A quarter-century after the crime, the accused, the investigators and the family of the victim were in each other's presence for the first time yesterday.
As a media phalanx in front of state Superior Court in Stamford awaited the arrival of 39-year-old Michael Skakel, charged with the 1975 murder of 15-year-old Martha Moxley, those closest to the case wove through the crowd.
Dorthy and John Moxley, the mother and brother of the victim, spent more time trying to find a parking space than it later took for Juvenile Matters division Judge Maureen Dennis to read a four-minute statement formally charging Skakel with the Oct. 30, 1975, murder of Martha Moxley.
Former Los Angeles Police Department Detective Mark Fuhrman and Stamford author Timothy Dumas, both of whom chronicled the crime and subsequent investigation, stood outside the courthouse with former Greenwich Police Department Detective Stephen Carroll, one of the original investigators of the murder.
Fuhrman and Dumas shook hands with the Moxleys as they approached the courthouse, later commenting on the human interest in the otherwise routine procedure.
"That's the interesting thing about today - the human interest side to the procedural matter," Dumas said. "People are facing each other for the first time … in some cases ever."
As curious lawyers walked by commenting on Fuhrman's presence, and rambunctious construction workers were heard declaring, prematurely, "Here (Skakel) comes, let him through," Carroll commented about the years that have passed since the murder.
"This is the first time I'll have seen Michael (Skakel) in 22 years," Carroll said moments before the defendant arrived. "At the time of the murder I didn't get to interview him. The comment is, 'We're halfway there, only halfway there.' … I hope the judicial system will work, and I'm glad all the media is here … that no words fall between the cracks as they have in the past."
As the Moxleys entered the courthouse, Skakel arrived. Accompanied by a bodyguard and attorney Michael Sherman, Skakel was led from a maroon Toyota sport utility vehicle up the parking lot past the cordoned-off media and into the courthouse.
Skakel remained silent as numerous reporters and photographers accosted him; the nearby construction workers once again screamed, "Let him through."
Soon after, Thomas Skakel's attorney Emanuel Margolis commented on the assemblage of players (the Moxleys, Skakel, Fuhrman, etc.) who had finally been brought together. Many credit the work of Fuhrman, Dumas and Newsday reporter Leonard Levitt with maintaining public interest in the case.
"The players are the players," Margolis said pointedly. "I've been involved in this case for 24 years, but I can't speak for anyone else."
Thomas Skakel has not been cleared of involvement in the crime for which his brother is now charged.
Michael Skakel was arrested Jan. 19 as the result of an 18-month grand jury investigation that determined sufficient probable cause existed for his arrest on a murder charge. Skakel has maintained that he is innocent.
Levitt, who was in the courtroom when Dennis read the charges to Skakel, described Dorthy Moxley as "flabbergasted" by the defendant's proclamation of empathy and innocence.
"I'm sure Dorthy Moxley has a lot of emotions at this moment. It's sweet and sour," Fuhrman said. "After all, it's the beginning of a long process."
After exiting the courthouse and addressing the media, Dorthy and John Moxley headed back to their New Jersey-bound car, ready to put the first day of another lengthy process behind them.
"I just want to go home and rest," John Moxley said.