Jail wears on Skakel Convicted murderer
looks slimmer, paler.
By Eve Sullivan - Greenwich Time

NORWALK -- As convicted killer Michael Skakel entered the courtroom yesterday morning for sentencing in the murder of Martha Moxley, his family and friends stood.

Skakel was wearing a navy-blue suit, had his hair cut short and appeared slimmer and paler than during his monthlong trial.

When he saw the group, tears streamed down his face.

"God bless Michael," said his brother, David Skakel.

Skakel's other brothers, Thomas, John and Steven, were in the crowd, as was his sister, Julie. The only sibling missing was Rushton Skakel Jr., who lives in Colombia.

Members of the public took note of Skakel's appearance.

"He looks better than before," said a woman in the back row, who requested anonymity. "The haircut is a big improvement."

Her friend agreed.

"He looks thinner," she said. "He's probably not eating as much as he was in prison. His face is not nearly as red."

When Skakel attorney Michael Sherman was asked about his client's change in appearance, he said, "What can I say? He lost some weight."

Sherman said yesterday was a tough day for Skakel, who will turn 42 next month.

"It's got to be one of the most difficult moments in his life," Sherman said.

Outside state Superior Court, Moxley's brother, John, was asked what he thought about Skakel's appearance.

"If that's what two months in jail does to you, I hope I never go," he said. "He used to have color in his face, now he looks pale. He looks like he lost 20 pounds."

Minutes before Skakel was brought into the courtroom, Moxley's mother, Dorthy, entered with family and friends. She stopped along the aisle to kiss two reporters and shake a reporter's hand.

Dorthy and John Moxley later made heartfelt statements, asking Judge John Kavanewsky Jr. to give Skakel life in prison for the Oct. 30, 1975, killing of Martha Moxley.

Skakel was convicted June 7 of beating Moxley to death with his late mother's golf club in the Belle Haven section of Greenwich when they were 15-year-old neighbors.

Sherman has made several post-verdict motions, including one for an acquittal and another for a new trial. He argued those motions yesterday in court.

Kavanewsky denied each motion, saying some were unfounded and others should have been broached during the trial.

O.J. Simpson case detective-turned-author Mark Fuhrman, who wrote "Murder in Greenwich: Who Killed Martha Moxley?" and has attended some of the trial, said Sherman's motions were a "shot in the dark" and a "last-ditch effort."

"He should have brought these up in court before," Fuhrman said outside the courthouse. "It's smoke and mirrors. It's delaying the inevitable."

After denying the motions, Kavanewsky started the sentencing process, which includes comments from both sides' attorneys, comments from supporters of the victim and convicted killer and reading of letters to the court.

Five people spoke on Martha Moxley's behalf, each telling the judge how much they miss her and asking for a life sentence for Skakel.

Three people spoke on Skakel's behalf, telling Kavanewsky what a good person he is and how much he has touched their lives. Skakel cried as his friends spoke. Additional Skakel supporters will speak today.

Skakel likely will address the court before he is sentenced, Sherman said.

When asked yesterday what she would like to hear from Skakel, Dorthy Moxley said, " 'I'm sorry,' and all the little details we don't know. It would be nice to hear, 'I'm sorry.' " Court adjourned early so Kavanewsky could review a document. Sentencing will continue at 10 a.m. today.

Under the guidelines in effect in 1975, Skakel could receive a minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a maximum of 25 years to life.

When Skakel turned to say goodbye to family members, he broke down crying. As marshals led him from the courtroom, he turned at the door and waved.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this story.



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