Skakel headed to trial
By Lindsay Faber - Greenwich Time
A state Superior Court judge yesterday denied a long-standing motion to dismiss the charges against Michael Skakel, who has been accused of killing teenage neighbor Martha Moxley in 1975.
The decision eliminates the last major obstacle to a trial likely to garner worldwide attention.
Skakel, 41, a nephew of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and Moxley, were 15 at the time of the slaying.. Moxley was found bludgeoned to death on her family's lawn in Belle Haven on Oct. 31, 1975.
Until now, the defense had argued that under the laws in effect in 1975, a five-year statute of limitations was applied to murder cases. State law was changed in 1976 to eliminate time limits for prosecuting serious felonies, including murder.
Stamford Superior Court Judge John Kavanewsky said yesterday that the offense in question is particularly grave.
"Connecticut precedents show that the gravity of the offense charged here, the crime of the murder, has been historically unquestioned," Kavanewsky ruled. "This court, in examining the decisions and statutes together and as a whole, is not persuaded that the statute of limitations in effect at the time . . . bars the prosecution of the defendant."
Lead defense attorney Michael Sherman said he was not surprised by the decision, nor was he likely to appeal it.
"I said from moment one, when Michael Skakel was arrested, that this case was going to be tried," Sherman said. "I look forward, as I always have, to letting a jury make the final call here."
Both sides have predicted that the case will proceed early next year, although no trial date has been set.
"The state's attorney and I will be discussing it with the judge in the coming weeks," Sherman said.
Dorthy Moxley, Martha Moxley's mother, said she was so excited by the news of the impending trial that her feet had not touched the ground all day.
"This is what I've been praying for, for years," Moxley said. "It's like a miracle. I'm so excited."
State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict was not available for comment yesterday, but he said last month he was looking forward to the case going to trial.
"The case is 26 years old now, and I think both parties feel strongly that it is something that needs to get resolved pretty quickly," Benedict said after the state Supreme Court dismissed Skakel's appeal to be tried as a juvenile.
The Moxley case remained unresolved for nearly 25 years. The police formally charged Skakel with the murder in January 2000.
Juvenile Court Judge Maureen Dennis later transferred the case from juvenile to adult court, saying there were no juvenile facilities that could accommodate a middle-aged man, should Skakel be convicted.
On Nov. 19, the state Supreme Court said it would not hear Skakel's appeal of the decision to transfer his case to adult court, saying it was too early in the legal process to consider that issue. Appeals are not normally granted until verdicts are reached.
Moxley was a popular high school student from Belle Haven. Police concluded that she was killed with a golf club that matched a set found in the Skakel residence.
Copyright © 2001, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.