"Sleuth's Grand Jury Appearance Stalled"
By J.A. Johnson Jr., Staff Writer, Greenwich Time

The appearance of a private detective before the grand jury investigating the 1975 slaying of Greenwich teenager Martha Moxley has been temporarily blocked by a lawyer for the two murder suspects.

Attorney Robert Gottlieb yesterday was granted a request for a hearing in a Suffolk County, N.Y., courtroom, in which he will try to quash a subpoena ordering the detective to appear before the grand jury in Bridgeport.

If the attempt fails, Willis Krebs, formerly of the Jericho, N.Y., firm of Sutton Associates, is expected to be questioned by the grand jury about significant changes suspects Michael and Thomas Skakel allegedly made to the alibis they gave police in 1975.

The subpoena, which had ordered Krebs to appear in Bridgeport tomorrow, was signed by Suffolk County Judge Michael Mullen on Oct. 19. "Our motion is on behalf of Michael and Thomas Skakel to quash the subpoena that has already been signed," Gottlieb said.

Krebs left Sutton Associates about a year ago to work as a detective in the Suffolk County District Attorney's white collar crime unit. His ormer superior, Sutton Associates president James Murphy, also was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury tomorrow, but his appearance has been similarly blocked by Gottlieb. The attorney on Monday filed a motion in Nassau County, N.Y., court asking a judge to not sign Murphy's subpoena on the basis his testimony would violate the attorney-client privilege.

A hearing concerning Murphy's subpoena has been scheduled for the morning of Nov. 10 in Nassau, and another hearing on Krebs' subpoena is set for that afternoon in Suffolk.

According to court documents, Sutton Associates was hired by the Skakel brothers' attorneys in 1991 to investigate the Moxley murder in preparation for a possible criminal defense. After Murphy resisted his subpoena, an application for an order to compel his grand jury appearance was filed in Nassau by State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict. In that application, the Connecticut prosecutor calls Murphy "a material and necessary witness" for the grand jury, saying he participated in interviews of both suspects in which they changed their alibis.

In those interviews, Benedict's application states, Murphy heard Michael and Thomas Skakel tell about being with their 15-year-old neighbor at about the time police said Moxley was murdered, or being near the crime scene shortly afterward. Police identified the murder weapon as a 6-iron from a set of golf clubs owned by the Skakel family.

According to police reports, Thomas Skakel, then 17, told police he left Moxley at 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 30, 1975, to go home and write a book report for school, which was later determined to never have been assigned. In his application with the Nassau court, Benedict states that Thomas Skakel told a Sutton Associates investigator that on the night of the murder, he and Martha Moxley had a sexual encounter behind the Skakel house that began at about 9:30 p.m. or 9:35 p.m. and lasted about 20 minutes. Police established the girl's death to have been at about 9:50 p.m.

According to Benedict's court filing, Michael Skakel, then 15, told authorities that on the night of the murder he last saw Moxley at about 9:30 p.m., when he left her outside his residence to drive a cousin home, and that he went directly to bed upon returning at about 11:30 p.m. and remained there until the following morning.

In his application with the Nassau County court, Benedict states that during his interview with a Sutton Associates investigator, the younger Skakel brother said that about 10 minutes after returning home from his cousin's, he went back out and spied on a neighbor, then climbed a tree by the Moxley home near what he thought was Martha's window, where he yelled in and got no response. He next went home past the spot where the young girl's body was eventually discovered, entering his room through a second-floor window.