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Special Event

Connecticut State's Attorney Announces Arrest Warrant for Martha Moxley Murder; Suspect Unnamed, Maintains Juvenile Status

Aired January 19, 2000 - 9:03 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And we are going to go live right now to Bridgeport, Connecticut for the latest on this case.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

JOHN BENEDICT, CONNECTICUT STATE'S ATTORNEY: ... the investigatory grand jury regarding the 1975 homicide of then 15-year- old Martha Moxley in the town of Greenwich. On June 12 of this year, one week ago, the grand juror, Judge George Thim, released his report in which he filed probable cause, and in which he also held there was sufficient evidence for the state to apply for the arrest of a particular individual.

Accordingly, my office has secured an arrest warrant for a particular individual. And as I speak, steps are being taken to effect that arrest. The finding will be distributed after my comments. It can also be, I believe, found at the clerk's office across the street.

In reviewing it, you will note early news reports today not withstanding that Judge Thim does not name or identify this particular individual. The reason for this is because at the time of the offense in 1975, the individual was over the age of 14, yet under the age of 16, and therefore, despite his obvious adulthood at this stage, still has -- incurs the protections of our then current juvenile court rules.

Accordingly, and in the same vein, my office my offices too faces the same restrictions. As a result, at this time, I am not able to make known any evidence or other matters regarding the identity of the individual or, for that matter, distribute the arrest warrant affidavit. This will be the status of this matter at least until the juvenile court process has run its course.

This should not be taken as an effort just to keep matters in secrecy just for the sake of doing so. Under our juvenile rules, any person who was the age of 14 or 15 at the time of committing a transferable offense is entitled to the protection of the juvenile court privacy rules. Therefore, at this point, until those rights are either waved or a court tells us otherwise, it is the obligation of my office to honor those rules as well.

The purpose of holding this short conference today is simply this: The grand jury finding becomes public today. Matters, I believe, will proceed in a confidential manner in juvenile court, but I wanted to dispel any notion whatsoever that while those matters were being conducted behind the closed doors of juvenile court that nothing is actually being done in this matter. Thank you very much.

KAGAN: That was a quick news conference held by John Benedict, the Connecticut state's attorney, talking that there has been an arrest warrant put out in the 1975 murder of 15-year-old Martha Moxley that took place in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Interesting twist of the law here. Even though we have been reporting that the warrant would be out for a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, Michael Skakel, the state's attorney did not mention a name because, as he explained, at the time of the murder the suspect in question here would have been a juvenile. And even though this man would be 39 to 40 years old now, he still technically has juvenile status. So his name is not released.

That will play out more and we will get some more information on that and how that all works when we talk with Roger Cossack.

Right now, here is Bill.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Daryn, thank you, Let's go up to Washington now and bring our legal analyst in here.

Roger, good morning to you.

ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Hi, Bill.

HEMMER: A number of interesting twists on this. At least two books have been written about this murder. It has been talked about for, again, 25 years time. But in this case, one judge served as a one-man grand jury. How common is that or not?

COSSACK: Well, it's not a very common thing. But in some states, in fact all states, are allowed to set up the grand jury as they see fit as long as they come up with what us called constitutional due process. And in this case, the state of Connecticut most likely has a situation where it is a one-person grand jury, it was a judge who heard the evidence, conducted the investigation, and on his own concluded that there was enough evidence, there was probable cause, so that someone should be arrested.

Now we think that -- we know who that someone is. But we -- no one has told us for sure. But remember, there's only probable cause. There has not been a finding of guilty, just merely probable cause to arrest.

HEMMER: Roger, why in the year 2000 has a murder from 1975 been reopened at this point?

COSSACK: Well, this is a case, as you know, that had a great deal of publicity. This is a case in which we were talking about the nephews of Ethel Kennedy from a very wealthy area. As you said, there has been books that have been written about this. And in fact, former Los Angeles Police Detective Mark Fuhrman wrote a book about it, in which he named Michael Skakel as the possible killer.

So this is the kind of case that gets a lot of publicity and doesn't go away.

HEMMER: Roger Cossack in Washington. Roger, thanks. As you say, it is not going away. We'll track it. Nice to talk with you.

Now to Daryn for more.

KAGAN: And as we just brought you that news conference live, our own Debra Feyerick was there, seated in the news conference. She has a guest, who perhaps can explain some more about the situation as it goes on -- Debby.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We do. We are joined by Mickey Sherman. He is the lawyer for Michael Skakel.

Now, you heard the attorney's announce. What do you think of him not naming your client?

MICKEY SHERMAN, MICHAEL SKAKEL'S ATTORNEY: That's like saying a large ship sunk, but not saying it was the Titanic. I mean, it is silly. I am not trying to be overly critical, but that is kind of silly. They could have said it was Michael Skakel. It makes no sense to me.

FEYERICK: What about the process that this is being kept in juvenile court?

SHERMAN: Well, that's the law.

FEYERICK: All right, As far as how you expect Michael to be charged, will he be charged as a juvenile? How will it happen?

SHERMAN: Don't know yet. I would rather not comment.

FEYERICK: And one further question, we have -- We are going to let you go up to the podium.

What we are going to do right now is he is going to head up to the podium. This way he can address the entire crowd. As you know, there are a lot of camera here. When we did speak to him earlier today, he described his client as being very anxious and very concerned. He also said that he was not in agreement with the state attorney's decision to issue an arrest warrant. He said, had he been known or had it been known that he was going to be arrested that his client would have surrendered. What Mickey Sherman told us is that Michael Skakel is en route to Connecticut, and he will surrender once the authorities tell him where he is supposed to be.

We are going to get out of the way so other cameras can get a shot. And what we will do is try to readjust and bring you Mickey Sherman in just a moment. KAGAN: OK, that's Deborah Feyerick bringing the latest from that news conference. As Mickey Sherman speaks, we will get those comments for you and bring them to you in just a moment.

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