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Michael Skakel  

Kennedy nephew arraigned in adult court

STAMFORD, Connecticut (CNN) -- Kennedy relative Michael Skakel was arraigned in adult criminal court Wednesday on murder charges in the 1975 killing of Greenwich neighbor Martha Moxley when both were 15 years old.

Juvenile Court Judge Maureen Dennis last month ruled that Skakel, now 40, should be tried as an adult, not a juvenile, because "there is reasonable cause to believe that (he) has committed murder."

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Skakel -- the nephew of Ethel Kennedy, who is the widow of Robert F. Kennedy -- is suspected of bludgeoning Moxley with a golf club. If found guilty, he could face life in prison.

Wednesday's arraignment was held in state Superior Court in Stamford.

Skakel did not enter a plea.

Skakel could have requested a stay of the arraignment, based on his pending appeal of Dennis' ruling. But Skakel attorney Michael Sherman said his client wants to move on and is not interested in delaying the process.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, have requested a change of venue, saying they want the case tried in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where major crimes were tried at the time of Moxley's slaying. Skakel is fighting that.

Skakel has already been through an arraignment and a probable cause hearing in juvenile court, where Dennis ruled that there was enough evidence to transfer the case to adult court.

In explaining her ruling, the judge said it was based in large part on the fact that Skakel is now 40 years old.

"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 had 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.

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 because of Skakel's high-profile family relations.

Moxley's body was found under a pine tree. She had been 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 of new publicity about the murder, including the publication of a book about it. Also, friends that Skakel had made at a substance abuse clinic in the 1970s said he admitted murdering Moxley.

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