Greenwich Police Chief Defends Moxley Probe
Responds to Criticism From Victim's Mother
By Carol Huang - APBNews.com
NEW YORK (APBNews.com) -- The Greenwich, Conn., police chief defends his department's investigation of the beating death of Martha Moxley 25 years ago, saying that some critics are motivated by greed and personal grudges.
Chief Peter Robbins was a young officer on dispatch duties at the time of the killing. Robbins talked to APBnews.com today, responding to a story in which Dorthy Moxley, Martha's mother, suggested that the department let her family down.
Michael Skakel, now 39, a nephew of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was arrested in January and charged with Martha Moxley's murder. All proceedings so far have been in juvenile court while judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers struggle with a case in which a grown man is charged for a crime he allegedly committed as a teenager.
The Skakel family became a focus of the investigation almost immediately after the 15-year-old's body was discovered, when a golf club that appeared to be the murder weapon was matched to a set of rare clubs in their house next door to the Moxley's.
Dorthy Moxley told APBnews.com that mistakes were made in the investigation because Greenwich police were inexperienced in homicide investigations and because the Kennedy connection made officers reluctant to question the Skakel family too harshly.
Suggests commander was smart
Others, including former Greenwich police investigator Steve Carroll, who investigated the murder, and former Los Angeles police detective Mark Fuhrman, who wrote a book about the case, have criticized Greenwich police for failing to bring a medical examiner to the scene and for never securing a search warrant.
Robbins suggested that his then-superiors may have been "smart" not to get a warrant. He said the Skakels were cooperating with investigators early on, allowing them to visit the house over and over, while a warrant would have limited them to a single search.
"I think, although I haven't talked to him firsthand, that the commander of that scene, Tom Keegan, used a tactical maneuver to allow his people to move back and forth within that residence to do what they had to do to gather any potential evidence for that investigation. I think that was probably a smart tactic," Robbins said.
"At some point, if he felt shut out, I'm sure he would have gotten a search warrant."
Robbins believes Carroll has "a personal issue" with Tom Keegan, the police captain who handled the Moxley case.
Calls Fuhrman 'arrogant'
The chief said Fuhrman's examination of the case was motivated by a desire to sell his book. He said Fuhrman was "arrogant and unprofessional" when he came to the Greenwich Police Department three times to research his book; Robbins also said he rejected Fuhrman's requests for information.
"His attempt is nothing more than to make some money," Robbins said. "We did not part in a good manner."
Robbins said criticism from Carroll, Fuhrman and others about how the investigation was handled by the Greenwich police is unfair.
"I have a difficult time taking the perception that different individuals have had with [how] lack of experience hampered the investigation. I don't believe that then, and I don't believe that today," he said.
Says officers were well-trained
Although many officers who worked the case had never investigated a homicide, Robbins said Greenwich officers are trained in the techniques of investigating any major crime, including murder, and he believes officers on the Moxley murder properly applied those techniques.
Robbins said officers searched manhole covers and storm drains in the area and conducted forensic tests on pieces of the murder weapon. He said the golf club found near Moxley's body was matched within 24 hours to the Skakel family set.
Although Moxley's body was discovered about 12:30 p.m. on Halloween day, a medical examiner was unable to come to the scene and did not examine her until nearly a day later. Robbins said that if the case had been under his command, he would have sent one of his officers to bring the medical examiner to the Moxley house.
However, he said that the failure of a medial examiner to arrive that day was not a police department mistake.
"It's pretty much a standard that that medical examiner has to go to the scene. If -- for whatever reason -- that medical examiner was not able to be at the scene ... you know, I don't really know what happened with that. That is certainly not the fault of the criminal investigators at the scene," Robbins said.