It has been 26 years since 15-year-old Martha Moxley was found beaten to death on the lawn of her home in affluent Greenwich, Conn. Far too long, says Frank Garr, an inspector with the state's attorney's office, to wait for the trial of her alleged murderer, Michael Skakel. "It's been a long haul," he says.
A court date may finally be nearing. On Nov. 19, in a setback to Skakel's defense, the state supreme court rejected his appeal that he be tried in juvenile court, where the possible penalties would have been minimal. Skakel, 41, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy's, was 15 at the time Moxley, his neighbor, was killed with a golf club that had belonged to his family. It wasn't until January 2000, after renewed interest in the case led to several breakthroughs, that he was arrested and charged.
His lawyers had argued that he be tried as a youth because of his age at the time of the crime. But, saying in part that the state's juvenile system lacked proper facilities to house an adult, a juvenile court judge transferred the case to superior court. There Skakel would face trial as an adult and, if convicted, could serve 10 years to life. Dorthy Moxley, 69, the victim's mother, who relentlessly pursued the case, was pleased by the new decision. "Hearing it in juvenile court would not mean much," she says. "In adult court he would be punished as an adult."
While disappointed, Skakel's lawyer Mickey Sherman says his client, who is still free on $500,000 bail, welcomes a trial. "We're in favor of this being aired in open courtroom," says Sherman, "and decided in front of everyone before a jury of 12 people."
Nevertheless Skakel's lawyers have asked State Superior Court Judge John F. Kavanewsky to dismiss the case; they claim the five-year statute of limitations in the state in 1975 expired before the charges were brought. His decision, the last hurdle before a trial, is expected soon. But not soon enough for some. Says Garr: "We're ready to go."
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