Skakel sentencing delayed
By Lindsey Faber - Greenwich Time

Michael Skakel's sentencing date has been postponed from July 19 to August 9 to give the state probation department more time to prepare its case.

Hartford lawyers Hope Seeley and Hubert Santos have been retained to appeal Skakel's June 7 conviction for the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley.

Skakel's trial lawyer, Michael Sher-man, had previously said the appeal would be handled by New Haven attorney David Grudberg as well as Richard Emanuel, a lawyer in private practice.

But he denied that the Skakel family went over his head to hire other lawyers.

"That's just not true," Sherman said. "They hired Seeley and Santos with my blessing."

While Sherman remains on the defense team, Seeley confirmed she and her partner are the lead attorneys on the appeals, and said she has already met with several Skakel family members as well as Skakel himself, on several occasions, at Garner Correctional Institution, where he is incarcerated.

"Michael Skakel hired our law firm to appeal his case," Seeley said.

The Skakels also have hired Steven Ecker, of Hartford, to assist Santos and Seeley.

Ecker could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Sherman said he did not attend the meetings between Skakel family members and the appellate lawyers, since some of the issues that might arise concern possible errors he made during the trial.

"We're all on the same team here, but I'm not leading the appeals," Sherman said. "I'm like the (general manager) now, I guess you could say."

Sherman, who will argue at Skakel's sentencing and then take more of a back-seat role than he has over the past three years, said Emanuel is working on post-verdict motions with Seeley and Santos but will likely not work the appeals. Grudberg is not currently working on the case.

Post-verdict motions could be handled before sentencing or on the same day, Seeley said, saying it was up to Superior Court Judge John Kavanewsky Jr. to decide. Appeals must be filed within 20 days of the sentencing.

Sherman already has filed three post-verdict motions, including a motion for a new trial, a motion to set aside the verdict and a motion for judgment of acquittal.

Skakel faces a possible sentence ranging from 10 years to life in prison. The appellate team is likely to argue for a sentence that does not include incarceration. They also will argue that Skakel should be released on an appellate bond, Sherman said. Seeley would not comment on other potential appellate topics.

Two appeals expected to be heard after sentencing are issues that already have arisen in Skakel's case, both of which were handled by Grudberg. He appealed Skakel's transfer from juvenile to adult court and argued the case should not be prosecuted since there was a 5-year statute of limitations on murders in effect in 1975.

Those appeals will head to the Supreme Court.

Seeley, 38, is president of the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. She was co-counsel for Alex Kelly, the Darien High School wrestler who was convicted of rape. In that case, she got the kidnapping charge against Kelly dismissed. Santos, her partner, is 57.

Seeley would not say whether she told the Skakel family to cancel a television appearance planned with Barbara Walters.

"I won't comment on that," she said.

Sherman said the family decided the publicity would be better after sentencing.

Skakel was convicted of beating Moxley to death on Oct. 30 in 1975 with a golf club custom-made for his mother. Both Skakel and Moxley were 15-year-old neighbors in Belle Haven.

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