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Skakel Prosecutor Reacts to 20-Year Sentence

Aired August 29, 2002 - 14:02   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Michael Skakel cried, pleaded for mercy and insisted he did not kill his neighbor, Martha Moxley. That did not spare him a sentence, though, of 20 years to life in prison.
CNN's Deborah Feyerick is following today's dramatic developments. She's in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Deborah, what's the latest?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Kyra, 20 years to life, eligible parole, we are now learning -- everybody's done the math -- and it seems that he'll be eligible for parole in just over about 11 years.

I'm joined with one of the state's attorneys who prosecuted this case, Susann Gill.

What was your reaction to the judge's sentence?

SUSANN GILL, PROSECUTOR: I think it was a fair sentence. The state felt confident asking for the maximum due to the brutality of the crime and the length of time that Mr. Skakel had escaped justice.

However, we understand the difficult factors that Judge Kavanewsky had to weigh, and I think he did a good job with them. So we're satisfied with the sentence.

FEYERICK: Given that Michael Skakel is going to be eligible for parole in just over 11 years, do you still feel that it's the right amount of time he should serve?

GILL: Well, we really didn't take into consideration parole eligibility in making our recommendation. And I doubt that the judge did in imposing sentence because that's not anything that you can predict. That just means he's eligible in 11 years. Whether or not he will be released in that time is just not something you can predict at that point.

So it didn't factor into our recommendation.

FEYERICK: It is very clear that the defense is already getting ready to mount an appeal; spent the last, really, two days almost making sure to go on record.

The key issues that you've had to deal with over the last two days based on the appeal they're going to be filing, what are they?

GILL: Well, I think the issues that we've heard mention of the most are the juvenile transfer issue and the statute of limitations. And we researched and argued both of those issues already, and we feel pretty confident about them. So we're ready for that.

FEYERICK: There's been a lot made about this sketch, this famous sketch that was mentioned in a lot of police reports but that doesn't seem to have been handed over by the state's attorney's office.

What is your response to this sketch? Why didn't you guys give it to him?

GILL: Well, the first thing about the sketch that I think people need to understand is it was never a suspect sketch. It was a sketch of someone that was seen in the neighborhood that night, that's all: someone the police wanted to talk to as an investigatory lead. It was never a sketch of a supposed suspect.

The second thing is that all the investigation that followed determined that that person was a person who lived in the neighborhood and was out for his nightly walk and had nothing to do with the murder.

All of that was revealed to the defense through the police reports that were made available to them. The composite sketch was mentioned in the police report, so they certainly were on notice it existed. Had they had any interest in seeing it, they certainly could have.

I think the fact that they never asked to see it until after the verdict speaks volumes about its lack of significance. Had it been significant to the defense, it certainly was available to them.

FEYERICK: OK. Jonathan Benedict, the state's attorney for Connecticut whose office you work with, he said that Michael Skakel had shown no remorse. At the same time, he still says that he didn't do it.

How do you show remorse for something you claim you didn't do?

PHILLIPS: Deborah? Deborah, we've got to interrupt you really quickly here. Deborah Feyerick, we're going to stand by there.

We've got to take you now to listen to Mickey Sherman, Skakel's attorney. He's speaking to reporters.

(INTERRUPTED BY CNN COVERAGE OF A LIVE EVENT)

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