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Kennedy Nephew Skakel Arraigned

March 14, 2000

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) _ After nearly 25 years, a woman and the Kennedy nephew accused of murdering her daughter faced each other in court for the first time Tuesday.

``You’ve got the wrong guy,″ Michael Skakel told Dorthy Moxley.

Skakel, 39, was arraigned as a juvenile in the October 1975 killing of Martha Moxley. Both Skakel and Martha Moxley were 15 at the time. He did not enter a plea and has denied any involvement in her death.

In a four-minute court appearance, Skakel heard the charge read aloud and was advised of his rights. Skakel was charged with being a juvenile delinquent ``based on an underlying charge of murder.″

A moment later, he stunned the crowded courtroom when he walked over to Dorthy Moxley, seated in the front row, and told her, ``Dorthy, I feel your pain, but you’ve got the wrong guy.″

She did not respond.

``We’ll find out in court,″ Martha’s brother, John Moxley, told Skakel.

Afterward, John Moxley said Skakel’s comment was ``just for himself _ just theater.″

``I think for 24 years, they’ve thought they’re above the law,″ he said of the Skakels. ``We’re going to find out now.″

Dorthy Moxley said Skakel’s remark sounded rehearsed and made no difference to her. ``I really feel as though I know what happened,″ she said.

Defense lawyer Michael Sherman said Skakel was sincere.

``Michael Skakel has no idea who killed Martha Moxley. If he did, he’d be the first one to tell the state’s attorney,″ Sherman said.

Skakel is the son of Rushton Skakel Sr., the brother of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel.

The Skakels and the Moxleys were neighbors in an exclusive enclave in upscale Greenwich. Martha was beaten to death the night of Oct. 30, 1975, with a golf club later traced to a set owned by the Skakels. No charges were ever filed.

Moxley’s case was reopened after more than two decades when an investigative grand jury was appointed in June 1998. The appointment followed the publication of books about the case, including one by former Los Angeles police Detective Mark Fuhrman.

He identified Skakel as the likely killer in his book. Prosecutors deny that Fuhrman’s book had any influence on their investigation.

Because of confidentiality laws surrounding juvenile cases, Skakel’s arraignment would normally have been closed to the public. But Judge Maureen Dennis, acting on a request from five newspapers and The Associated Press, last week agreed to open the proceeding.

Dennis found that Skakel had effectively waived his confidentiality rights, both because he is an adult and because his name and the charges against him were already well-known.

Bridgeport State’s Attorney Jonathan Benedict said it will take at least a year for the case to go to trial.

``It’s a 25-year-old case. I don’t think it was handed to the state on a silver platter here, but we did an awful lot of work in the case ... and I’m looking forward to trying it,″ Benedict said.

A ``reasonable cause″ hearing, when prosecutors must prove that there is enough evidence to proceed with the case, is scheduled for June 20.


On the Net: The Connecticut Judicial Branch Web site: http://www.jud.state.ct.us

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