Skakel trial 'ready to go'
By Lindsay Faber - Greenwich Time
Hundreds of news media, lawyers, police officers and insiders will descend on the Norwalk courthouse today, creating a circus-like atmosphere expected to last for about five weeks as the state tries to put a 26-year-old murder case to rest.
The trial of Michael Skakel for the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley begins today, and the swarm of people and cameras around state Superior Court is sure to create a buzz in an otherwise quiet city that will receive unprecedented publicity from the highly anticipated case.
The courthouse opens at 9 a.m., and there will be roped off sections for the media, public and family members of the defendant and victim. About 70 seats will be open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.
Superior Court Judge John Kavanewsky Jr. will preside over the trial.
The jury, including four alternates, is composed of eight men and eight women from the southern part of Fairfield County, who will sit in a new jury box in the front of the courtroom and listen to opening statements from both sides and witness testimony from Dorthy Moxley, Martha's mother, and John Moxley, Martha's brother.
The court also is likely to hear from Sheila McGuire, a Belle Haven neighbor in 1975 who discovered 15-year-old Martha's body on Oct. 31 in the Moxleys' yard, and law enforcement officials who were working on the Moxley case at the time.
Dorthy Moxley, who indicated she is eager for the trial to begin, said she will attend every day with her son, John. It remains unclear who from the Skakel family will attend. Steven Skakel, Michael's brother, came to the courthouse every day during the month of jury selection. On one day, his sister, Julie Skakel, accompanied him.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told Greenwich Time recently that he expects to attend portions of the trial with some of his family members, who are related to Michael Skakel through the marriage of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel, Michael's aunt.
The media are also expecting to see Vanity Fair writer Dominick Dunne, who penned a novel about the case, as well as former Los Angeles Police detective Mark Fuhrman, who wrote a book that named Michael Skakel as the chief suspect. Greenwich native Timothy Dumas, a third author, also will attend.
An area of the parking lot behind the courthouse will be roped off to serve as a media pen for the more than 50 news organizations from all over the country that received credentials to cover the trial.
State troopers and local police officers will guard the back and front of the courthouse, attempting to guarantee a hassle-free entrance for the prosecution and defense, as well as the Skakel and Moxley families.
"Although we do anticipate some greater amount of traffic in the area, we don't think it's too much that we're going to have to reroute any traffic," Norwalk Police Department Captain John Suchy said, adding that there are still available parking spaces in the Yankee Doodle Parking Garage located near the courthouse.
Despite the swarm of people and attention that will descend upon Norwalk, lawyers for both sides are paying more attention to what is at stake for them and the two families involved.
Skakel's lawyer, Michael Sherman, will arrive with his associates on the case, including Jason Throne, Mark Sherman, his son, and Stephen Seeger. Other members of the defense team include private investigator Vito Colucci and Skakel's hired bodyguard, Kris Steele.
"We're feeling confident, unquestionably, but, by the same token, a criminal trial is a different kind of animal," Sherman said. "No matter how much both sides prepare, you can never truly be prepared for the unexpected ups and downs sure to happen for both sides."
The prosecution is comprised of State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict, Deputy Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano and Senior Assistant State's Attorney Susann Gill. Another key member of the state team includes state Inspector Frank Garr.
"We're ready to go," Benedict said.