Anti-violence conference lauds Moxley, Morano
for their roles in convicting Skakel
By Lindsey Faber - Greenwich Time

CHESHIRE -- An eager crowd of attorneys, victims' advocates and homicide victims' relatives showered Dorthy Moxley and Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano with multiple standing ovations yesterday at an anti-violence conference where they spoke about their roles in the conviction of Michael Skakel last year.

Skakel was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison in August for the 1975 murder of Greenwich teenager Martha Moxley.

Yesterday, Morano replayed several portions of the state's closing argument, which stood out for its emotional delivery and use of computer technology.

The technique used by the prosecution during Skakel's trial raised the ire of appellate attorneys, who called it "over the top" and charged that it inflamed the jury.

Morano returned the barb yesterday, calling the Skakel brothers' mid-April appearance on "48 Hours," alongside their cousin Robert F. Kennedy Jr., "terrible."

"It was very slanted and it left a lot out," Morano said. "They said we took this tape, cut it and edited it. That's not true."

The tape to which Morano referred was a recording of Skakel being interviewed by a ghostwriter he had hired to write his story. The book never came out, but the tapes, played aloud in the courtroom, incriminated Skakel, Morano said.

"We wanted to show his state of mind on that night, and the tapes show that he was pumped up," the attorney explained. "We saved things for our final argument because we wanted to marshal our evidence in a way the jury would remember, and we hoped they would be shocked and hopefully awed by it."

Morano and Moxley spoke about their leadership roles during separate panels yesterday at the 7th Annual Melanie Ilene Rieger Memorial Conference Against Violence at the Department of Correction. The conference, sponsored by several state agencies and the Survivors of Homicide Inc., honored Rieger, a Waterbury resident who was murdered in 1994 at age 19.

Moxley described the Skakel case from the moment she learned her daughter had been beaten to death with a golf club in the family's Belle Haven yard to the minute that Skakel was convicted. She explained how she summoned the strength to keep pushing forward, even after a quarter-century of stalled leads in the case.

"I am just a wife and a mother, and I don't take a very flattering picture," she told the crowd. "But I didn't care what those pictures looked like. I had to get the case out there. I knew there was someone out there who knew something."

Moxley said Skakel's June 7 conviction was her 70th birthday present. His August sentence was a birthday present for Martha, who would have turned 42 that month, she said.

"I thought I would have a party when it was over, but I didn't," Moxley said. "You still have the sadness. It doesn't ever go away."

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