Judge to weigh Skakel arrest warrant release
By J.A. Johnson Jr. - Greenwich Time
A request by press organizations to unseal the warrant used to arrest Martha Moxley's alleged killer is to be considered by a Superior Court judge next week.
Neither prosecutors nor murder defendant Michael Skakel plan to contest the motion when it is considered by Juvenile Matters division Judge Maureen Dennis during a hearing scheduled for Tuesday in Stamford.
Skakel's court file is under seal because the 39-year-old defendant, who was 15 when Moxley was murdered in 1975, was arraigned as a juvenile.
The file contains the affidavit prosecutors used to support the warrant for Skakel's arrest, a document that should include mention of evidence pointing toward Skakel as the 15-year-old Greenwich girl's alleged killer.
The motion to unseal the file was made by Greenwich Time, The (Stamford) Advocate, The Hartford Courant, The New York Times, Newsday and The Associated Press. The same group of organizations was successful in an earlier bid to gain access to Skakel's March 14 arraignment.
Dennis decided to open the arraignment mainly because as an adult, Skakel no longer required the protection that juvenile court secrecy rules afford youthful offenders. She also noted in a written decision that Skakel did not object to being publicly arraigned.
The new motion, filed March 21, argues that the same reasons for allowing public access to Skakel's arraignment apply to unsealing the defendant's court file.
"The absence of concerns over confidentiality, in our opinion, apply equally to the documents in the case," said David Fein, the Stamford attorney representing the media organizations.
State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict could not be reached for comment yesterday. The memorandum of law supporting the motion states, however, "The state and Mr. Skakel have informed (the media organizations) that they take no position on the motion."
Skakel is scheduled to next appear in court June 20 for a probable cause hearing to determine whether the state's case against him is strong enough to go to trial.
Skakel was arrested Jan. 19, after an 18-month grand jury investigation. He was among a group of teens who were with Moxley the night she was slain with a golf club that police said belonged to the Skakel family.
It also has been alleged by prosecutors that Skakel made possibly incriminating statements regarding the murder while at a substance abuse rehabilitation center several years after the murder.
According to Skakel's defense lawyer, Michael Sherman, the arrest warrant affidavit refers to grand jury testimony of witnesses who were with Skakel at the rehab center when the alleged incriminating statements were made.
"Since this involves the confidentiality of other patients, I don't think it's appropriate for me to agree or disagree with the motion" to unseal the court file, Sherman said. "I prefer to leave this call to the sound discretion of the judge."