- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2002

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) A judge refused yesterday to order a new murder trial for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, but said his sentencing for the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley would likely continue into today.
Norwalk Superior Court Judge John F. Kavanewsky Jr. rejected motions by Skakel's defense team, who claimed his attorneys were hamstrung by the prosecution's failure to turn over a police sketch during the trial.
Judge Kavanewsky also rejected defense claims that the prosecution inflamed the jury by using an audio-video presentation that included photos of Miss Moxley's autopsy and Skakel's voice on a tape describing his actions the night she was killed.
The judge said he would need additional time to review submissions from Skakel's friends and family before pronouncing sentence today. Before sentencing, the court is expected to hear from Miss Moxley's mother, Dorthy, and may hear from Skakel, who did not testify during the trial.
On Tuesday, Skakel's attorneys filed more than 100 pages of documents, including letters from Skakel supporters such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The defense said Skakel was abused by his father and nannies but had overcome a difficult upbringing to lead an exemplary life and should receive leniency.
"During his short life, Michael has endured unusual suffering," wrote Mr. Kennedy, Skakel's cousin. "He was a small, sensitive child the runt of the litter with a harsh and occasionally violent alcoholic father who both ignored and abused him."
Skakel, 41, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, was convicted in June of beating Miss Moxley to death when they were 15-year-old neighbors in Greenwich. Under the guidelines in effect in 1975, Skakel could receive a minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a maximum of 25 years to life.
The defense had claimed the sketch of a man spotted by a Greenwich special police officer on the night of the October 1975 murder resembles the Skakel family tutor, Kenneth Littleton.
Mr. Littleton, who had started his job the day Miss Moxley was killed, was an early suspect in the case. During the trial, Skakel's attorneys repeatedly suggested Mr. Littleton was the killer.
Defense attorney Hubert Santos said the sketch would have been critical at the trial if prosecutors had submitted it.
"At minimum, there would have been a hung jury," Mr. Santos said.
Prosecutor Susann Gill said the defense received all of the police reports that led to the sketch being made, and was given written notice that the sketch existed.
"It was certainly available to them at any point if they requested it," she said.
Miss Gill also disputed the idea the sketch would have influenced jurors. The man in the drawing was identified as a neighbor and Mr. Littleton had an alibi, she said.
Mr. Skakel's lead trial attorney, Michael Sherman, said prosecutors used "subliminal messages" in their multimedia presentation.
"I think it would be terrific if you're selling cars," Mr. Sherman said. "That can only have an absolutely devastating effect on the jury."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide