Skakel hearing set for Tuesday
By J.A. Johnson Jr. - Greenwich Time

The court hearing to begin Tuesday that will determine the fate of the case against murder defendant Michael Skakel promises to feature faces both new and familiar to the 25-year-old Martha Moxley murder case.

According to court sources, the prosecution plans to take two days to present the evidence it will claim is sufficient to warrant Skakel standing trial for the 1975 murder of his 15-year-old Greenwich neighbor.

Those sources said the evidence will consist of testimony from seven witnesses, including people who have never before been in the public eye - former attendees of a substance abuse rehabilitation center who allegedly heard Skakel make incriminating admissions concerning Moxley's brutal murder.

Other witnesses that will be more recognizable to those familiar with the Moxley case include retired Greenwich Police Chief Thomas Keegan, who in 1975 headed the murder investigation as a captain in charge of the detective division.

Keegan will be traveling to the hearing from South Carolina, where he has served as a state legislator for several years.

Another planned witness for the state is retired Greenwich Detective James Lunney, a lead investigator during the initial stages of the Moxley murder probe, sources said.

Defense attorney Michael Sherman said he plans to present one or more witnesses to rebut the state's evidence, but would not identify who he planned to call.

"I intend to vigorously contest the issues involved, and we have every hope we will prevail at this hearing," Sherman said on Friday.

Skakel's lawyer previously described the case against his client as "between weak and nonexistent."

Benedict has refused to discuss the evidence against Skakel, but he also has said he planned to present only a portion of the state's case.

The case is before Superior Court Judge Maureen Dennis, who in addition to deciding whether probable cause for a trial exists, must determine whether Skakel's case will remain in juvenile court or be transferred to adult court.

Skakel, now 39, was charged as a juvenile because he was 15 at the time of the alleged crime.

Dennis has set aside five days for the probable cause hearing, beginning Tuesday.

Among the known physical evidence the prosecution has at its disposal are parts of the murder weapon - portions of a 6-iron that police said came from a set of golf clubs owned by the Skakel family, who lived across the street from the Moxleys in the town's Belle Haven section.

Skakel was among a group of neighborhood teens that included Moxley the night of the murder, Oct. 30, 1975. He originally told police he left Moxley to drive a cousin home, and later returned home and went to bed. In a private investigation agency's report, commissioned in 1992 by the Skakel family and later leaked to the media, Skakel is said to have significantly changed his alibi by placing himself at or near the crime scene, and admitted to lying to police.

Court sources said the prosecution does not plan to introduce the Sutton Associates report as evidence in this week's hearing.

Those same sources added, however, that one of the planned witnesses is Skakel's boyhood friend Andy Pugh, who in 1998 testified before the grand jury whose investigation led to Skakel's arrest in January.

In a previous interview with Greenwich Time, Pugh said when speaking with Skakel in the early 1990s, Skakel told him he had climbed a tree on the Moxley property the night of the murder and masturbated.

In the interview, Pugh also recalled how Skakel had been "obsessed" with Moxley, and had seen Skakel and the victim kissing on several occasions.

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