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Prosecution Asks Jury to Consider Lesser Charge in Skakel Trial

Aired May 30, 2002 - 13:11   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Now we've got some breaking news out of Norwalk, Connecticut at the Michael Skakel trial. Deborah Feyerick with that. Deb, is it going to the jury yet?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, no, it has not gone to the jury, but a very unusual move: Prosecutors are asking the jury to consider lesser charges against Michael Skakel in the murder of Martha Moxley. He has been charged with murder. The prosecutors want the jury to also be able to consider manslaughter in the first degree by reason of extreme emotional disturbance. This is not something like insanity, it's more like passion, grief, anger, an intense feeling.

Now, manslaughter one doesn't wipe out intent. What it does do is it sort of lays the groundwork as to why a murder may have happened, something like that, and it's usually asked for by the defense, not by prosecutors. The big difference between the two charges is that with murder, the state has the burden of proof, but with manslaughter it's the defense that has the burden of proof.

Now the defense is fighting this. They say they do not want it. In their opinion, it is all or nothing -- either the jury finds him guilty of murder or not guilty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICKEY SHERMAN, SKAKEL ATTORNEY: They're asking me to let the jury find whether or not I prove something that not only have I not proved, I don't want to prove, I have no intention of proving. And if the judge orders this charge in, I'm going to tell that jury, I didn't prove it, and don't put any burden on me, and I don't want you to do this. You either find him guilty of murder, or don't find him guilty of anything. Don't do us any favors.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: Both sides will be arguing their position this afternoon at about 2:00.

Meantime, there is a big differences also in the number of years that could be served. Murder carries a maximum of 25 years to life, whereas manslaughter one carries a sentence of zero to 20 years, and even with the reduced sentence, Mickey Sherman, Michael Skakel's lawyer says he doesn't want it -- Carol.

LIN: All right. Thank you very much. Deborah Feyerick with the latest on the Michael Skakel trial. More new developments on that front.

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