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Skakel to Be Tried as an Adult for 1975 Death

Aired February 21, 2001 - 4:11 p.m. ET

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

STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN ANCHOR: In Connecticut, a shift of courts portends a major change for Michael Skakel. The murder case against the nephew of Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy switched today from adult court -- to adult court from juvenile court. Skakel, you'll recall, is charged in the 1975 beating death of his neighbor, Martha Moxley.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick is in Stamford, Connecticut with the latest now -- Deborah.

DEBORAH FEYERICK , CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Steve, the stakes are now much higher for Michael Skakel. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. That's compared to four years at a youth treatment center if he is convicted.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FEYERICK (voice-over): Michael Skakel entered Superior Court in Stamford, Connecticut, where he was read his rights and arraigned for murder, not charged as a juvenile, but as an adult in the 1975 killing of Martha Moxley. At the time, both Moxley and Skakel were 15 years old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn't do it. Michael Skakel didn't commit this crime.

FEYERICK: During the 15-minute arraignment, Skakel was asked by the judge whether he understood his rights. Skakel replied, "I understand fully." Skakel was not asked to enter a plea, though since his arrest more than a year ago, he has maintained he didn't do it.

The original investigators say it's about time the case went to trial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The prosecutors office, the state attorney's office has gathered an awful lot of stuff on this.

FEYERICK: Skakel's attorney is appealing last month's juvenile court ruling transferring this case to adult court. The judge there cited lack of facilities to hold Skakel if convicted. Skakel is now 40 years old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The state will file a motion to dismisses that appeal sometime in the next two weeks. FEYERICK: At a probable cause hearing slated for mid-April, the judge will hear testimony from witnesses and decide whether there's enough evidence to go to trial.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FEYERICK: Prosecutors now want this case moved to Bridgeport. They say this is where the case would have been tried had it been done back in 1975. Skakel's attorney says no. He says a jury here, close to where Skakel grew up, can decide just as well whether Skakel's innocent or not -- Steve.

FRAZIER: Deborah, we're beginning to have a little trouble hearing you but one question: After all of these years, 26 now, why is that Mr. Skakel would like to move on and not ask for a continuance?

All right. Our apologies. We in fact are not able to hear Deborah Feyerick now. But we'll try to bring you those details a little later.

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