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Prosecutor says Skakel case may depend on switch to adult court

Skakel
Skakel is accused of the 1975 beating death of his 15-year-old classmate, Martha Moxley  

STAMFORD, Connecticut (CNN) -- Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel was in court Friday as a judge gets closer to deciding whether to transfer his trial for the 1975 murder of his friend and neighbor, Martha Moxley, from juvenile to adult court.

The hearing centered on a probation report ordered by Judge Maureen Dennis on Skakel's background, juvenile court law and circumstances of the incident. Skakel was 15 when he allegedly beat to death Moxley, also 15, the night before Halloween.

Skakel's attorney, Michael Sherman, called four witnesses to the stand Friday. The first to testify was the probation officer, Joseph Paquin, who prepared the report for Dennis.

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Paquin testified that he focused more on the suitability of Connecticut's criminal facilities than he did on Michael Skakel's history. He said he could find no suitable juvenile facility that could serve Michael Skakel's needs, if he is convicted. Skakel is now 40 years old.

Also testifying for the defense was Clinton Roberts, president of Alternative Sentencing, an organization that works with criminal defense attorneys to prepare pre-sentencing reports in the hopes of lighter sentences. Roberts testified that there were other facilities where Skakel could be held under a juvenile status, or as a juvenile.

When asked by Skakel's defense attorney whether there was a place somewhere in the 49 states for Skakel, Roberts answered that "the probability was high."

Sherman told the judge "to make her decision as if Michael Skakel was 15 years old," adding that he should be treated now as he would have been treated in 1975.

Sherman said because of his age, Skakel is a special needs candidate. "It places him in the same category as a child who is blind," Sherman said.

Outside the courtroom, Martha's brother, John Moxley, said, "My mother and I have special needs, too -- and that's to put this to end, to get satisfaction so that justice can be done."

Prosecutors have been arguing to transfer the case to adult court under a 1971 statute. States attorney Jonathan Benedict has said there's not a lot of sense to proceed with the case, if it is not transferred.

Skakel's aunt is Ethel Kennedy, the widow of late Sen. Robert Kennedy.



RELATED STORIES:
Report clears way for ruling on trial of Kennedy cousin in 1975 murder
October 5, 2000
Kennedy cousin ordered to stand trial in 1975 slaying
August 17, 2000
Conflicting testimony over whether Skakel confessed to killing
June 21, 2000
Witness says Kennedy relative confessed to 1975 killing
June 20, 2000
Arraignment today for Kennedy kin in girl's murder
February 8, 2000
Attorney: Skakel to be arraigned next month
January 20, 2000
Attorney: No evidence to tie Skakel to 1975 killing of girl
January 20, 2000
Kennedy kin free on bond after surrendering in girl's 1975 killing
January 19, 2000

RELATED SITES:
The Martha Moxley Murder
Martha Moxley - The Unsolved Murder


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