Skakel hearing set for tomorrow
By Kerry Tesoriero - Greenwich Time

He was a boy when police allege he killed his 15-year-old Greenwich neighbor, Martha Moxley.

At issue at a court hearing tomorrow in Stamford is whether the accused, Michael Skakel, should be treated as the child he was in 1975 or the 40-year-old man he is today as he faces the charge of murder.

Skakel, nephew of Ethel and the late U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy, was indicted in January in the Oct. 30, 1975, slaying of Moxley, who lived near his home in the exclusive community of Belle Haven in Greenwich.

Moxley was beaten and stabbed through the neck with a golf club. Shortly after the murder, Greenwich police found that the Toney Penna 6-iron used to kill the teen matched a set found in the Skakel home.

Skakel was charged as a juvenile because he was 15 when the crime took place.

Juvenile Court Judge Maureen Dennis already has found reasonable cause for Skakel's arrest. She ordered a probation report, which typically includes information about a defendant's past behavior and medical record, to consider as she decides whether Skakel should be tried as a child or an adult.

At the hearing scheduled to begin tomorrow, State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict will make an argument for moving the case to adult court, where Skakel could face 10 years to life in prison if convicted, under 1975 state law.

Attorneys have debated what penalty Skakel could face if the case remains in juvenile court. The maximum penalty he could face would be four years in a juvenile correctional facility, which could not accommodate an adult man, some say.

Other attorneys have argued that he cannot be penalized under the state laws of 1975 because the statute of limitations for murder at the time would have expired.

Benedict could not be reached for comment.

Skakel's attorney Michael Sherman said he will present witnesses, but he declined to discuss his game plan yesterday. He wouldn't comment on whether he prefers to defend the case in juvenile or adult court.

"It's not his fault that 25 years went by before they brought the case," Sherman said. "They don't have new DNA evidence."

He declined to discuss the content of the sealed probation report, except to say he wouldn't characterize it as favorable to keeping the case in juvenile court or moving it to adult court.

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