"Judge Orders Skakel P.I. to Divulge Names"
By J.A. Johnson Jr., Greenwich Time March 30, 1999
BRIDGEPORT - A former private detective was ordered by a judge yesterday to tell
a grand jury the names of people he interviewed during his investigation of the
1975 Martha Moxley murder.
When he appeared before the grand jury last week, Willis Krebs refused to
divulge those names on the basis that it was confidential information because he
conducted the interviews at the behest of attorneys representing murder suspects
Michael and Thomas Skakel.
That refusal to cooperate resulted in yesterday's open-court hearing in which
prosecutors asked Superior Court Judge G. Sarsfield Ford to compel Krebs to give
the requested testimony.
In a motion seeking the judge's order, Executive Assistant State's Attorney
Domenick Galluzzo told Ford that the names of people Krebs had interviewed "is
necessary to the public interest," and he noted that "the grand jury made a
finding that the questions were proper."
The one-judge grand jury that was convened last June to probe the Moxley murder
is headed by Superior Court Judge George Thim, Ford's colleague at the
Bridgeport courthouse. Galluzzo and State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict have been
assisting Thim in his investigation.
Manhattan attorney Norman Bloch, who has represented Krebs in the sealed grand
jury room, urged Ford in open court not to force Krebs to reveal the requested
names because such information would give prosecutors insight to a possible
defense if the grand jury returns indictments.
"This is attorney work product because the names would tell the government two
things: what steps were taken in pursuit of representation of the clients and
what steps were not taken," Bloch told the judge. "It tells the government what
the strategies, thought processes and conclusions of the defense were."
But Ford sided with prosecutors, stating, "The disclosure of names for the
purpose of investigation is not protected by the work product" doctrine.
Immediately after Ford's ruling, Krebs and his attorney returned to the grand
jury room across the hall, emerging about 20 minutes later. Because of a gag
order imposed by Thim when Krebs first appeared before the grand jury Wednesday,
neither Krebs nor Bloch could comment on whether the former private detective
would be returning for additional testimony.
Krebs is a former New York City police lieutenant who now is an investigator
with the white-collar crime unit of the Suffolk County, N.Y., district
attorney's office. When conducting interviews related to the Moxley murder, he
was employed by Sutton Associates, a Jericho, N.Y., private detective agency
hired by Skakel attorneys in 1992 to investigate the Greenwich girl's death in
preparation for a possible criminal defense.
Michael and Thomas Skakel, who in 1975 were 15 and 17, respectively, were both
with Moxley the night their 15-year-old Belle Haven 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
Although police have said that 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.
Krebs had been subpoenaed by prosecutors in September, and the subpoena
subsequently was endorsed by a county judge in Krebs' home state of New York.
But it took months of legal wrangling to get the witness before the grand jury
because attorneys representing the Skakel brothers intervened with a motion to
quash the Connecticut court order. That motion, which also cited the attorney-
client privilege, was denied in Suffolk County court on March 12.
A subpoena also had been issued to Sutton Associates President James Murphy, but
in January a Nassau County, N.Y., judge ruled he would not enforce the order -
not because of a claimed privilege, but because Murphy had not personally
interviewed either Skakel brother and therefore was not a material witness.