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Prosectors Want Skakel Tried As Adult

In a Connecticut courtroom Tuesday, the mother of murdered teenager Martha Moxley stood almost shoulder to shoulder with the Kennedy family member charged with killing her daughter 25 years ago.

CBS News Correspondent Bobbi Harley reports Dorthy Moxley rebuffed Michael Skakel's profession of innocence after the hearing.

After a simple, four-minute court appearance in which Skakel heard the charge against him read aloud and was advised of his rights, the 39-year-old man approached Moxley's mother and brother, John, and said, "I feel your pain, but you've got the wrong guy.''

John Moxley said he told Skakel,"We'll find out in court,'' and he dismissed Skakel's comments as "just for himself—just theater.''

Mrs. Moxley said the remark made no difference because, "I really feel as though I know what happened.''

"It sounded contrived, rehearsed,"Mrs. Moxley said.

The Kennedy cousin was arraigned as a juvenile because he was 15 when Moxley, his 15-year-old neighbor, was bludgeoned to death with an iron golf club and stabbed on Oct. 30, 1975.

The golf club belonged to the Skakel family. Michael Skakel and his brother Thomas were suspects early on, but up to now no one was ever charged with he crime.

Because the case is in juvenile court, Skakel is entitled to a "reasonable cause'' hearing, at which prosecutors must show there is sufficient evidence to proceed with the case. That hearing is scheduled for June 20.

Asked whether he had any questions, Skakel told Judge Maureen Dennis, "Not at this time.''

Skakel made no comment to reporters outside the courtroom.

Under confidentiality laws designed to protect juveniles, arraignments are generally closed to the press and public. But Judge Maureen Dennis, acting on a request from several news organizations ruled last week that the media would be allowed in the courtroom.

The judge agreed that Skakel has already effectively waived his juvenile confidentiality rights, both because he is an adult and because his name and the charges against him are already well known across the country.

Prosecutors said their next battle is to prove the 39-year-old Skakel's case should be moved from the juvenile system to the adult court.

Skakel denies any involvement in Moxley's death and wants the proceeding open so the public can hear his side of the story. The case went unsolved for more than two decades until an investigative grand jury was convened in June 1998.

Although the grand jury proceedings were closed to the public, prosecutors said in court documents that they were told by former students at the Elan school in Poland Spring, Maine, that Skakel made "admissions as to the murder of Martha Moxley" while he was a student there from 1978 to 1980.

Skakel was arrested in January after Judge George Thim, acting as a one-man grand jury, ruled there was enough evidence to charge him.

Dorothy Moxley said Skkel's arraignment is a critical step in her long quest to bring her daughter's killer to justice. "This is like a miracle, after all this time," said Mrs. Moxley.

Said John Moxley,"It's great. After 24 years, we are finally swimming with the current."

Skakel's attorney, Michael Sherman said his goal in the case is not to grandstand. "The key thing is to focus on what's important here, and that is a fair trial and the presumption of innocence," he said.

Michael Skakel is the son of Rushton Skakel Sr., who is the brother of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel.

The reopening of the Moxley case followed the publication of books about the case, including one by former Los Angeles police Detective Mark Fuhrman that identified Michael Skakel as the likely killer. Prosecutors deny that Fuhrman's book had any influence on their investigation.

Fuhrman, who gained notoriety during the O.J. Simpson trial for racist remarks, has been hired by ABC to provide commentary on the case.

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