Year in review:
Skakel trial winds up with a surprise finish
By Lindsey Faber - Greenwich Time
In a stunning verdict that few in Greenwich expected, a jury convicted Michael Skakel this spring of the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley, putting a lid on a case that had garnered worldwide attention for more than a quarter-of-a-century.
The riveting five-week trial at state Superior Court in Norwalk this June was decided by a sophisticated jury that in the end became convinced Skakel, in a fit of passion and rage, beat Moxley to death with his mother's golf club.
Not a day passed when the courtroom wasn't packed with news media reporters, family members and friends of the Skakels and Moxleys, and members of the public drawn to the case by the much-hyped Kennedy connection. But of that famous family, only Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Skakel's first cousin, attended the trial for one morning.
Prosecutors and witnesses for the state offered the story of a 15-year-old Greenwich boy who was devastated by the loss of his mother at an early age, upset by a constant rivalry with his older brother and obsessed with his teenage crush on his neighbor, Moxley. They pointed to erratic, and at times wild behavior to paint a picture of an angry boy capable of committing murder, even at the age of 15.
Skakel's attorney, Michael Sherman, and his defense witnesses, attempted to build reasonable doubt by putting the blame on the Skakel family tutor, Kenneth Littleton, who had been a suspect in the case before Skakel was arrested in 2000. But the jury was not ultimately convinced that Littleton had anything to do with the murder.
Finally, in closing arguments, State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict managed to weave together every angle of his case in an impassioned statement that left a packed courtroom awed and 12 jurors convinced.
Nevertheless, with no direct evidence or eyewitnesses, the verdict was surprising, as was the sight of Skakel being whisked away to a high-security state prison in handcuffs.
Following two months in prison, Skakel reappeared in court for a two-day sentencing hearing in August.
"I would love to be able to say I did this crime so the Moxley family could have rest and peace, but I can't, Your Honor," the nephew of Ethel Kennedy told state Superior Court Judge John Kavanewsky Jr. "To do that would be a lie in front of my God, who I am going to be in front of for eternity."
After Skakel's remarks, the judge explained that Skakel's failure to accept responsibility for his "especially vicious" crime convinced him to impose a long sentence.
"I won't claim to know for certain what prompted or caused the defendant to kill Martha Moxley, but by the verdict delivered, I do know that for the last 25 years or more, (he) has been living a lie about his guilt," Kavanewsky said, before sentencing Skakel to 20 years to life.
Shortly after he was sentenced, Sherman, who is being held at Cheshire Correctional Institution, announced he would appeal the verdict and hired two of the state's top appellate lawyers, Hope Seeley and Hubert Santos of Hartford. The appeal should move forward early next year.
Meanwhile, Sherman, who faced what he said was the most upsetting verdict of his career, has moved on to other cases. Christopher Morano, a prosecutor on the case, recently became the chief state's attorney, in charge of all prosecutions and criminal investigations in Connecticut.
And while Dorthy Moxley, Martha's mother, remains comforted that justice has been served in the name of her daughter, she still feels haunted, she has said, because there is nothing she can do to bring Martha back.