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Mickey Sherman was confident when he defended his client Michael Skakel recently on NBC’s “Today” Show � maybe too confident. “She called me ‘cocky,’ ” Sherman said, in a tone that suggested he was surprised by “ Today” Show host Katie Couric’s description of him. “And I wanted to say, ‘Yeah, and you’re perky.’ “ Couric’s words, however, may have toned down Sherman in the meantime, as he switched his focus from noteworthy one-liners about the case to focusing on his client’s upcoming murder trial. “I’ve gloated enough,” Sherman said in a recent interview about the defense team’s reaction to the state’s key witness, Gregory Coleman, during the recent probable cause hearing held in Stamford, Conn., Superior Court. Coleman’s unexpected admission to Sherman on cross-examination that he had shot up heroin an hour before he testified to a grand jury that Skakel admitted killing Moxley, jarred both Sherman and prosecutors in the case. During the course of the probable cause hearing as well Coleman sought methadone, a treatment to ease heroin withdrawal. The reactions from both sides of the fence after Coleman’s casual admissions said much about the very different styles of lawyering taking place during the court proceedings — styles that may have an impact on how a jury will decide Skakel’s fate. Sherman said he plans to file several motions before the May 21 deadline, including a motion to dismiss the case because of the delay — 25 years — in charging Skakel for the crime. In the alternative, he plans to file motions on discovery issues. Sources in the case say a trial could begin as early as fall — or as late as January, after the district’s new superior courthouse in Stamford is completed. On April 20, Judge John F. Kavanewsky Jr., found probable cause that Skakel, a Kennedy relative, killed Moxley in 1975. In his ruling, Kavanewsky said that he believed Moxley’s murder was intentional, due to the nature of her injuries and the way she was left half-clothed to die under a pine tree. Evidence that Kavanewsky cited in his decision included the finding of a golf club as the murder weapon — one that was part of a brother-and-sister set owned by the Skakels. In addition, there were admissions by three witnesses who said that Skakel confessed an involvement in the murder and admitted to masturbating in the tree under which Moxley’s body was found the night of the murder. The lead prosecutor in the Moxley case, Jonathan Benedict, has a reputation for being one of the more low-key state’s attorneys in Connecticut. Although he was responsible, along with state investigator and former Greenwich, Conn., detective Frank Garr, for pushing the Moxley case forward after many years, Benedict doesn’t hover in the media spotlight. In fact, Benedict only makes comments to the press when he has to speak on behalf of a case, and even then, he makes his comments brief. Benedict did not return repeated phone calls. Garr said the state is looking ahead to moving the case forward, while prosecutor Chris Morano said the state would reserve its comments for the courtroom. Benedict’s straight demeanor does not change in the courtroom either — his approach is unemotional, calm, and, at times, almost passive. But it is an approach, which suits him — and one that Judge Kavanewsky seemed to prefer recently in his tightly run courtroom. At the start of the probable-cause hearing, Benedict objected several times to Sherman’s line of questioning during cross-examination of the state’s witnesses. Kavanewsky sided with the state for at least 14 objections in a row, citing either an argumentative stance or lack of foundation laid by Sherman. In contrast, Sherman’s colorful personality and anecdotes often make headlines. New Haven, Conn., criminal defense attorney Avery Chapman said he was sure that Sherman, who has appeared on numerous television shows about the case, was mindful of Rules of Professional Conduct regarding trial publicity. “I don’t think Mickey has said anything to compromise the integrity of the case,” Chapman said. Still, with all of his persuasive abilities, Kavanewsky did not allow Sherman to proffer three witnesses after he found probable cause existed. Sherman’s last public words at the hearing to Kavanewsky were, “Are you going to be the judge?” for the trial, a comment Sherman dismissed as mere “curiosity.” Kavanewsky indicated he wasn’t sure whether he would be the trial judge.

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