Court in Moxley Case to Hear
Probation Report on Skakel
By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN, New York Times
A juvenile court judge in Stamford, Conn., has scheduled a hearing later
this month to discuss a biographical report on Michael C. Skakel, the
Kennedy relative charged in the 1975 killing of Martha Moxley in
The report was prepared by a youth probation officer to help the judge,
Maureen D. Dennis, decide whether to transfer Mr. Skakel's case to State
Superior Court, where he would be tried for murder as an adult.
Mr. Skakel, now 40, is charged as a juvenile in the case because he was
15 at the time Miss Moxley, his next-door neighbor, was found bludgeoned
to death under a pine tree in her family's yard.
The hearing, scheduled for Oct. 20 in Superior Court in Stamford, was
requested by Mr. Skakel's defense lawyer, Michael Sherman, who was given
a copy of the report last week. The report is sealed, and Mr. Sherman
has declined to discuss its contents or characterize it as either
favorable or unfavorable to his client.
The preparation of the report on Mr. Skakel, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy,
is required under the Connecticut juvenile justice laws as they existed
in 1975; Judge Dennis is required to follow those laws in the case. In
August, she ruled that there was "reasonable cause" to believe that Mr.
Skakel had committed the crime, a finding that is required if she is to
transfer the case to adult court.
After the determination of reasonable cause, the law instructs that an
inquiry be made into the background of the defendant. Judicial experts
have described the report as roughly equivalent to the pre-sentencing
report that is often prepared after adult defendants have been convicted
to help a judge determine punishment.
Under normal circumstances, the report on a juvenile defendant would
include relevant information about the child's parents and home
environment, performance in school and behavior to help the judge decide
whether the case would be better heard in adult or juvenile court.
The distinction is crucial. If convicted in juvenile court, Mr. Skakel
would face a sentence of perhaps less than four years. If convicted of
murder in Superior Court, he could face life imprisonment.
Because of the unusual circumstances of the Skakel case, it is unclear
whether the probation officer who prepared the report also included
information about Mr. Skakel's adult life. Mr. Skakel is now married and
has a son.