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Special Event

Sherman: Michael Skakel en Route to Turn Himself in to Connecticut Authorities

Aired January 19, 2000 - 9:13 a.m. ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: The attorney now is speaking there in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Let's go back there live, and we hope to pick up Jamie a little later.


MICKEY SHERMAN, MICHAEL SKAKEL'S ATTORNEY: ... step-son. But by the same token, I'm not here to whine or bitch, merely to affect this arrest. So, I do not know where he's going to surrender. I assume I will know when Mr. Garr or somebody from his office says, bring him here, bring him there. I assume it will be a juvenile court, but I don't know. The charge, I assume, is murder from what I'm seeing here, and that's about it.

As regard to Michael Skakel, when he comes here, he'll be arrested. I assume that there will be a bond. I believe he'll make the bond, he'll appear in court, he'll plead not guilty, there will be a trial and I believe eventually he will be acquitted.

QUESTION: Mr. Sherman, you've been his attorney for the past 18 months. Can you give us a sense of what he's been going through and his (OFF-MIKE)?

SHERMAN: None of us know exactly what the grand jury testimony has been, essentially because it's a secret proceeding by statute. We've had glimpses and snatches of it by having gone through those hearings regarding the Elan program, we've also been able to interview witnesses before they testified, and we have some knowledge of that. I've never thought that the testimony elicited from those students would amount to probable cause and certainly not proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Is he concerned? Of course. Is he anxious? Yes. But he believes he'll be exonerated.

QUESTION: Was he surprised?

SHERMAN: Nothing in this cases surprises anybody at this point.

QUESTION: Is he guilty?



SHERMAN: You know, she hasn't said that over and over again. She's only said that in last couple of months, and I believe she's only said that because she has been convinced of that by the folks around her. And again, I've always said totally, I have no criticism of Dorthy Moxley. She's a lovely women. Her tenacity, her dedication has kept this investigation alive over these years, and I have nothing but admiration for that. She's lost her daughter, she's entitled to think, frankly, and say whatever she wants to, and I have no problem with that.

QUESTION: Mr. Sherman, are there any considerations that are a little bit different for an attorney when he's working on a case that, in a sense, is 24 years old? Anything you do differently?


QUESTION: Mr. Benedict (ph), can you tell us about Thomas Skakel? Do you expect he is also facing some kind of an arrest warrant (OFF-MIKE)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no reason to believe that at all. As a matter of fact, I've just gotten a little copy of the report, which is, I would say, terse, if not brief, and the report on the second page makes reference to the fact that the grand jury has come to the conclusion that there's probable cause to believe that the crime of murder as defined by the Connecticut statutes was committed. Evidence was also presented with respect to identifying the person or persons who committed the crime, and then the evidence shows that there's probable cause to support an application for an arrest warrant.

Based on what's taken place this morning, as well as the extraordinary information that you folks have managed to gather, there appears to be an arrest warrant that is outstanding for Michael Skakel. I have absolutely no reason to believe that there's any kind of a warrant, and I would certainly hope not, as against Thomas Skakel, because there's not a shred of incriminating evidence against my client, nor was any presented to the grand jury to the best of my knowledge. But again, as Mr. Sherman pointed out, we don't know every scintilla of evidence that was presented to that grand jury.

QUESTION: Mr. Sherman...

QUESTION: Can you say something, Mr. Sherman, what the residents of the Elan (OFF-MIKE) please tell us whether -- can you please tell us what extent you think the interviews with the former president of Elan (OFF-MIKE) Center played on the grand jury's finding?

SHERMAN: Have no clue. Number one, they didn't share those interviews with us. We had a little bit of it, because I bounced around the country to talk to some of these folks when we had an idea that they were going to be subpoenaed, but once they testified, they were told, and they obeyed that rule, not to talk to us or anybody else, for that matter. So, I don't know what they said. Don't know.

QUESTION: Do you think it will have a hearing on the grand jury (OFF-MIKE)?

SHERMAN: Oh, I'm sure, I'm sure.

QUESTION: How about DNA and hair?

QUESTION: How would you characterize this (OFF-MIKE) in your experience the whole idea of what's happened here? Put in a nutshell for us (OFF-MIKE), and how do you defend him?

SHERMAN: It's a -- don't forget, you're still talking about a street crime. This is not an embezzlement, it's not a white-collar crime. It's a murder, it's a street crime. There's got to be evidence. There's got to be confessions, there has to be forensic evidence, there has to be witnesses. The fact that you have people some 22 years calling in "Unsolved Mysteries" or other shows saying, you know, I think I remember about 18 years ago I heard somebody say something. I don't know that that's going to measure up to what as jury wants to hear, and that's going to be the litmus test, not what we say here, what Mr. Benedict or his office says, not what I say. It's what 12 people sitting in a jury sometime later want to believe.

QUESTION: Would he get a fair trial in this area?

SHERMAN: Yes, He will. You know something? He will. I...

QUESTION: In the past you said he wouldn't.

SHERMAN: Excuse me?

QUESTION: In the past you said he wouldn't.

SHERMAN: No, that's not true. I've always said -- I believe in the jury system, and I believe that we're going to -- that we can find people who will listen to the evidence.


HEMMER: This is a complex case with a lot of twists and turns. We've had more just in the past few hours. That was Mickey Sherman, attorney for Michael Skakel, the suspect in this case right now. According to the attorney, Mickey -- Mickey Sherman indicates that Skakel is actually en route from his home in Florida up to Connecticut to turn himself in to prosecutors there.

Back to Washington. Roger Cossack, the defense right now taking questions from reporter there in Bridgeport, how well prepared are they, and one would assume after 25 years of time being a suspect at one time in this case they already have some work done on this, Roger.

ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Bill, what I found really most interesting in terms of what Mr. Sherman had to say was how well prepared the defense is in this case. When he mentioned how he, quote, "bounced around this country" talking to witnesses before and after they perhaps testified before the grand jury, that is a very rare occurrence that many -- that most defense attorneys never have the ability to do. The notion that he's this well prepared, that he's already talked to the witnesses and he's already, in a sense, laying out his defense -- he says, look, you need a confession, you need forensic evidence -- obviously, if the prosecution had a whole lot of that, he wouldn't be pointing out to that. So, I think the defense is very -- at least seems to be pretty well prepared in this case.

HEMMER: Let's pick up on one more point, Roger, the fact that it happened when Michael Skakel was 15 years old, Martha Moxley 15 years old as well. When you consider that at the time he was a juvenile not named in the judgment issued by the judge with this grand jury process, how does that change the current process? Does it at all when you consider the fact that he's a juvenile at the time?

COSSACK: Well, the question will be whether or not he will be tried as a juvenile, and that's yet to be decided by the state of Connecticut. Obviously, if in fact we think, you know, he's charged with murder, that is something that the state of Connecticut could decide that he should be tried as an adult even though it was 15 -- he was 15 years old when the alleged events occurred that he was involved in. So, that's yet to be decided. If he's tried as a juvenile, it would be a different proceeding than it would be as the traditional adult trial that we're used to seeing.

HEMMER: Very interesting. Fascinating indeed. We'll track it on all different fronts. Roger Cossack, again, in Washington, Roger, thank you.


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