It has been 31 years since 15-year-old Martha Moxley was bludgeoned to death in the gated Greenwich community of Belle Haven, where she lived diagonally across the street from the Skakel mansion. It has been almost five years since Skakel was convicted of killing her, based largely on the testimony of a teen classmate-turned-heroin addict who came forward more than 20 years after the murder to claim Skakel once said, "I'm going to get away with murder; I'm a Kennedy."The last time I commented on a trial where the defense was denied important evidence is the Juile Amero trial that is globally recognized as this century's most outrageous witch-hunt.
In seven days of hearings before Karazin that concluded Wednesday, Skakel's lawyers, Hope Seeley and Hubert Santos, marshaled evidence of:
A man who claims his two "out-of-control" friends, one of them obsessed with Martha, remained in Belle Haven the night of the killing and later boasted of achieving their fantasy of "going caveman" on a girl. All three men, including the tale's originator-Gitano "Tony" Bryant -invoked their right against self-incrimination during sworn depositions and did not testify during the hearing. Bryant's mother, Barbara, in voluntary discussions with Skakel investigators, said her then 14-year-old son was in Belle Haven that night, and told her his friends, Adolph Hasbrouck and Burton Tinsley, remained behind in Belle Haven after he returned home to New York.
Documents withheld from the defense team during Skakel's 2002 trial that could have shown a jury how seriously investigators considered suspects other than Skakel, including his older brother, Thomas.
A book deal by lead inspector Frank Garr, formalized after the verdict but informally agreed upon with investigative reporter Len Levitt, in 1999. Seeley and Santos said the deal compromised the integrity of the prosecution, and Garr's work on the defense team's claims of newly discovered evidence.
Three former classmates of Skakel's at the controversial Elan School in Maine who dispute the claims by Gregory Coleman that he heard Skakel say he would get away with murder because he's a Kennedy. (Skakel is the nephew of Ethel Skakel Kennedy and the slain presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy.) One, John Simpson, said he challenged Coleman's claim the night he made it, and that in reply, Coleman told him Skakel did not answer one way or another but merely grinned.
The Skakel trial may be this century's worst rich-hunt.
During the Skakel trial, Judge Hillary Strackbein was a juvenile court prosecutor, Hillary Bargar (sometimes Barger in the media). At the time she was widely quoted regarding Michael Skakel's juvenile status at the time of the crime. Less-widely reported is her role as reported here.
In Court Wednesday, Michael Skakel's attorney, Michael Sherman, told Judge Maureen Dennis he did not want to have a full hearing on the matter and later said he had "complete faith" in Goldberg's integrity.I am not so sure. The more I have learned about Connecticut's scales of justice overbearingly tipped toward the prosecution, the more I believe this man was railroaded.
But outside court, he said he was concerned about what he called the prosecution's "stampede to uncover negative information about Michael Skakel."
"I'm concerned about some manner of unbridled prosecutorial efforts to convict Michael Skakel," he said.
Sherman said no juvenile records were found because Skakel was never arrested as a juvenile.
"He has never had a juvenile record _ never did," Sherman said.
Juvenile records are routinely checked by both prosecutors and defense attorneys in all cases as part of trial preparation.
"There was absolutely no impropriety here," said Hillary Bargar, the juvenile prosecutor who requested the records.
The road to political success in Connecticut and this country is in mining hate. For well over thirty years I would commute to work and listen to one radio talk show hate monger after another bash liberals. But their secondary target was rich people. And Michael Skakel is as distasteful a rich man as they come. The fact that he was related to the Kennedys who during the Bush administration's descent into political dementia were also objects of hate speech from the talk-radio genre.
Skakel's baggage, bad timing, and the unbridled ambition of prosecutors makes this case yet another prime suspect as an American injustice. The media pundits spent weeks of denial that the Virginia Tech shooter in fact had a motive that was no crazier than the radio talk show hosts'. The shooter hated rich people with the same conviction that neo-cons hate the Kennedys, liberals, and Hollywood political activists.
The more I read about the Skakel trial, the more I believe he may be an innocent man as much a victim of the same hate cultivated by an enterprising media, dog-eat-justice prosecutorial court system, and a public conditioned to rationalize and exorcise their own hate on high-profile celebrities.
He deserves another trial with all the evidence on the table and the public needs to seriously begin to question whether the courts of Connecticut dispense justice or simply mete out blind punishment. The prosecutors of this country can make the same boast that they are "getting away with murder" by milking the public intolerance for innocence as Michael Skakel is accused of saying while under the influence of addictive drugs.