Lock him up for good: Moxley's mom wants
life sentence for Skakel
By Maggie Mulvihill - Boston Herald

Dorthy Moxley has spent a good part of this summer lingering over thoughts of hate.

``I'm trying not to hate him. Hate is so destructive,'' she said as she prepares herself for Wednesday's sentencing of Michael Skakel, the Kennedy cousin convicted of murdering Dorthy's daughter, Martha.

But despite her efforts in the months since the verdict to find a way to forgive Skakel, who at the time of the slaying was a motherless, child alcoholic with a smoldering temper, she wants to see him sentenced to life in prison.

``I had thoughts of leniency for Michael, but then I would think about how, because of him, Martha is not with us anymore,'' said Moxley, 70. ``Martha got a sentence of death. We got a sentence of life without Martha. Why shouldn't Michael get the same?''

Moxley, who has toiled relentlessly since 1975 to see her daughter's murder solved, and her son John will address the court at the sentencing hearing.

Without DNA evidence or an eyewitness, Skakel was convicted of bludgeoning Martha Moxley to death with a golf club in a jealous rage when they were 15-year-old neighbors in Greenwich, Conn.

Skakel will be brought to Norwalk Superior Court from his cell at the Garner Correctional Institution to hear his fate. Skakel has been incarcerated at the facility near New Haven since the June 7 verdict.

His trial attorney, Michael ``Mickey'' Sherman, would not divulge last week if Skakel, now a 41-year-old divorced father, would also address the court.

Skakel's attempt to speak to the jury in the dramatic moments after the verdict was read, was quickly cut off by Judge John F. Kavanewsky.

Sherman said he does expect Skakel's large group of family and friends, as well as perhaps his cousin Robert F. Kennedy Jr., to attend. But he would not discuss whether they too might make a plea for leniency to the judge.

``Stay tuned. I don't want to preview anything,'' Sherman said during an interview last week just after he visited Skakel in prison.

``He is as upbeat as anyone can be under the circumstances.''

Though Skakel will be sentenced according to guidelines in place in 1975, he still faces the grim possibility of being sentenced to the minimum, 10 years to life, or the maximum of 25 years to life, Sherman acknowledged.

And Wednesday's hearing, like the riveting month-long murder trial that preceded it, promises to be fueled with high drama.

Skakel, a scion of the now-dwindling Skakel family fortune, grew up in a world of privilege - a world of uniformed maids and gardeners who tended to the Skakel's white-brick mansion in the toney enclave of Greenwich, Conn.

He once bragged that he was ``a Kennedy'' and would ``get away with murder,'' according to a classmate.

Skakel and his siblings were chauffeured to private schools, dined at their oceanside country club, partied in exotic hotspots with his Kennedy cousins or at his family's New York ski chalet.

Now that world is a shadow.

Save for Kennedy Jr., none of his famous relatives put in an appearance at the trial, including Ethel Kennedy, who Skakel has said turned to him many times for help with her own children's addiction problems.

Skakel, a former campaign aide to U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) appears to have lost the backing of his powerful relatives and instead faces the prospect of sitting out the rest of his life in a windowless state prison cell with only some snapshots of his toddler son, George, to soothe him.

These realities propelled the shocked Skakel family to drum up support for the convicted murderer within hours of the verdict.

An urgent call, led by younger brother Stephen Skakel, went out to supporters almost immediately to raise funds for an appeal.

And at campskakel.com - a Web site started before the trial by a Skakel supporter in California - states ``the Skakel family also urges anyone who has had a positive experience with Michael . . . to write a letter to Judge John Kavenewsky.''

About 20 letters have been sent to Kavanewsky weighing in on the sentence Skakel should receive, state officials said.

A defense fund bank account has been established in New York and a set of high-priced appellate lawyers has been hired in the ``Never Give Up Hope'' campaign, according to the Skakel Web site.

As probation officers have labored since June to gather information about Skakel that Judge Kavenewsky will use in crafting a sentence, Sherman and his legal team have also been preparing arguments they will make Wednesday seeking a new trial.

The defense motion for a new trial was filed within days of the verdict. It claimed the prosecutors withheld key exculpatory evidence during the trial and that Skakel's rights were prejudiced by Judge Kavanewsky's admission of certain evidence as well as several instructions he gave to the jury.

A distraught Sherman said in the moments after he lost the case the jury's decision was ``the most upsetting verdict I've ever had, or will ever have, in my life.''

He vowed then, along with Skakel's brothers, that ``as long as there's a breath in my body, this case is not over.''

It's that foreboding thought that has also weighed on Dorthy Moxley's mind this summer as she braces herself for the sentencing.

Though she has some peace knowing the person convicted of killing her only daughter is in prison she says she hasn't ``found great reason to jump up and down and be excited.''

``It will never really be over. There will be appeals and petitions for parole,'' she said. ``I think I am going to have Michael Skakel as an appendage for the rest of my life.''

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