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Court rejects request to move Skakel trial

Michael Skakel
Skakel, leaving the courthouse after a March hearing.  

STAMFORD, Connecticut (CNN) -- A Connecticut Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel will be tried in Stamford for the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley, a decision that could favor the defense in determining the jury pool.

Judge John Kavenewsky said the state had not met its burden to change venue, adding that "no one has suggested that a fair and impartial trial cannot be tried here."

The decision comes as a blow to prosecutors, who sought to move the trial to Bridgeport, a racially and economically mixed city about 25 miles north of well-to-do Stamford, which neighbors Skakel's home town.

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Read the decision on motion for venue change (State v. Skakel) (FindLaw) (PDF)
Decision to try Michael Skakel as an adult - January 31, 2001(FindLaw)(PDF format)
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Skakel's attorney, Mickey Sherman, had wanted the case tried in Stamford, next door to Greenwich, where Skakel grew up in an exclusive gated community.

"We have always said we could get a fair trial where ever this trial is held," said Sherman, "but this is one little perk they are not throwing to the state."

Connecticut State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict was said the decision was not a surprise.

"We'll try the case anywhere. We're eager to get started. It's not unexpected," he said.

Asked if a jury chosen in Stamford might be more sympathetic to Skakel, Benedict said, "I don't know who is suggesting that. People are no different in Stamford, Danbury, or Bridgeport. If anyone is suggesting that, it is no body from our side."

Bridgeport is where the case would have been tried at the time of the murder. The State's Attorney cited convenience in requesting a change of venue to Bridgeport, where his offices are based.

Neither side raised the issue of the jury pool, but experts have said that's what the debate was really about.

John Moxley, the victim's brother, said he did not think the ruling was that important. "I don' t think that a change of venue was any magical genie that was going to do something. I think it was a matter of convenience for the state attorney," he said.

Skakel and Moxley, his neighbor, were both 15 at the time she was bludgeoned to death outside her home with a golf club after a night out with friends. He surrendered to Greenwich police on January 19, 2000, five days after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

A probable cause hearing in the Skakel case is scheduled for April 18. Both prosecutors and defense expect that session to be similar to a reasonable cause hearing held last June.

The case was moved from juvenile to adult court on January 31. Skakel's lawyer is appealing that transfer decision, and has asked that the case be dismissed citing a statute of limitations on the crime.



RELATED STORIES:
Documents implicate Skakel in Moxley killing
March 12, 2001
Attorneys spar over trial location in Skakel case
March 1, 2001
Kennedy nephew arraigned in adult court
February 21, 2001
Kennedy nephew to face trial as adult in 1975 killing
January 31, 2001
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

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


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