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Kennedy nephew to face trial as adult in 1975 killing

Michael Skakel
Skakel is charged with murder in the 1975 death of classmate Martha Moxley  

STAMFORD, Connecticut (CNN) -- Kennedy relative Michael Skakel will face trial as an adult for the 1975 killing of Greenwich neighbor Martha Moxley when both were 15 years old, a juvenile court judge ruled Wednesday.

Skakel -- the nephew of Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert F. Kennedy -- is suspected of killing Moxley with a golf club.

"The court finds ... that there is reasonable cause to believe that the respondent has committed murder," Judge Maureen Dennis wrote, citing a review of the evidence presented to her court.

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Dennis said her ruling to try Skakel as an adult was based in large part on the fact he is now 40 years old and, if found guilty, juvenile facilities aren't adequate for someone of that age.

A conviction as an adult could carry a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. As a juvenile, Skakel would have faced a maximum sentence of four years in a youth treatment facility, if convicted.

"There is no available or suitable state institution designed for the care and treatment of children to which the Juvenile Court could commit the now 40-year-old," Dennis said in her ruling.

Prosecutors argued Skakel should be tried as an adult because of the nature of the crime and because state juvenile institutions have no ability to handle an adult man.

Dennis also denied a defense motion to dismiss the case.

Frank Garr, a representative for the Connecticut State Attorney and the lead investigator on the case, said he was pleased with the decision.

"We're happy," he told CNN. "The decision was somewhat anticipated. We're pleased. We believe this is where the trial and the proceedings should be." Skakel's arraignment will be at Stamford Superior Court at a date yet to be determined.

The case has posed an unprecedented challenge to the Connecticut court system because the murder occurred more than two decades ago and Skakel was a juvenile at the time. It also has drawn intense news media attention due to his high-profile family relations.

Moxley was found under a pine tree, bludgeoned to death with an unusual golf club that matched a set owned by the Skakels. Skakel has testified that he had been with Moxley and others, but said he had blacked out before Moxley was killed.

The case came under renewed scrutiny following a wave a new publicity about the murder, including the publication of a book.

Prosecutor says Skakel case may depend on switch to adult court
October 20, 2000
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

The Martha Moxley Murder
Martha Moxley - The Unsolved Murder

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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