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Skakel Awaits His Sentence

A judge has refused to order a new murder trial for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, who was convicted of the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley and is to be sentenced Thursday for the crime.

Wednesday, Norwalk Superior Court Judge John F. Kavanewsky Jr. rejected motions by Skakel's defense team, who claimed his lawyers were hamstrung by the prosecution's failure to turn over a police sketch during the trial.

Kavanewsky also rejected defense claims that the prosecution inflamed the jury by using an audio-video presentation that included photos of Martha's autopsy and Skakel's voice on a tape describing his actions the night she was killed.

Before sentencing, the court is expected to hear from Martha's mother, Dorthy, and may hear from Skakel, who did not testify during the trial.

Moxley found justice in the guilty verdict against Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel. Now she is seeking justice in his sentence.

"I think he needs to be in jail for life," she told WCBS-AM Radio earlier.

However, reports CBS News Correspondent Steve Knight, the 1975 laws also mean that with good time credits, which have since been abolished, Skakel could get out of prison after five and a half to thirteen years.

"I just have to take whatever it is," said the mother whose daughter was beaten to death with a six-iron golf club nearly 27 years ago.

On Tuesday, Skakel's attorneys filed more than 100 pages of documents, including letters from Skakel supporters such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The defense said Skakel was abused by his father and nannies but had overcome a difficult upbringing to lead an exemplary life and should receive leniency.

"During his short life, Michael has endured unusual suffering," Kennedy wrote. "He was a small, sensitive child — the runt of the litter with a harsh and occasionally violent alcoholic father who both ignored and abused him."

Skakel, 41, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, was convicted in June of beating Martha to death when they were 15-year-old neighbors in Greenwich. Under the guidelines in effect in 1975, Skakel could receive a minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a maximum of 25 years to life.

The defense had claimed the sketch, a drawing of a man spotted by a Greenwich special police officer the night of the October 1975 murder, resembles the Skakel family tutor, Kenneth Littleton.

Littleton, who had started his job the day Martha was killed, was an early suspect in the case. During the trial, Skakel's lawyers repeatedly suggested Littleton was the killer.

Defense attorney Hubert Santos said the sketch would have been critical at the trial if prosecutors had turned it over.

"At minimum, there would have been a hung jury," Santos said.

Prosecutor Susann Gill said the defense received all of the police reports that led to the sketch being made, and was given written notice that the sketch existed.

"It was certainly available to them at any point if they requested it," she said.

Gill also disputed the idea that the sketch would have influenced jurors. The man in the drawing was identified as a neighbor and Littleton had an alibi, she said.

Skakel's lead trial attorney, Michael Sherman, said prosecutors used "subliminal messages" in their multimedia presentation.

"I think it would be terrific if you're selling cars," Sherman said. "That can only have an absolutely devastating effect on the jury."

Gill said everything used in the closing arguments had been accepted as evidence.

"There was nothing subliminal at all about the presentation," she said.

Sherman also said Kavanewsky erred when he permitted testimony from a former classmate of Skakel to be used by prosecutors.

Gregory Coleman attended a substance abuse treatment center with Skakel in the 1970s. He testified in a pretrial hearing that Skakel once told him, "I'm going to get away with murder, because I'm a Kennedy."

Coleman died last year after using drugs, but his comments were read into the record of the trial. Coleman had admitted in the pretrial hearing that he was high on heroin when he told a one-judge grand jury about Skakel's remark, but stood by his testimony.

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