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Michael “Mickey” Sherman, attorney for Kennedy cousin and accused murderer Michael Skakel, submitted so many discovery motions during an Aug. 15 pretrial hearing in Stamford, Conn., that he was asked by a reporter if he “was fishing to see what he could catch” from Connecticut Superior Court Judge John Kavanewsky Jr. Kavanewsky denied most of Sherman’s requests as “overbroad.” Meanwhile, Kavanewsky still has the task of deciding whether a 1975 statute of limitations, in effect at the time Martha Moxley was slain, requires that a murder charge against Skakel be dismissed. Hearing and ruling on state and defense motions for discovery last week had no bearing on issues he has yet to decide, Kavanewsky told the attorneys. “I have no mindset as to it at the present time,” he said about the defense’s motion to dismiss the case. The defense had previously filed the motion to dismiss last year at this time with Judge Maureen Dennis. Dennis ruled Aug. 17, 2000 that Skakel should be tried as an adult for Moxley’s murder, but did not rule on the dismissal issue. Moxley was found bludgeoned to death, her body left underneath a large pine tree in the Belle Haven, Conn., neighborhood she shared with Skakel in 1975. Prosecutors have identified the weapon used on Moxley as a Tony Penna golf iron belonging to the Skakel family. Last week, defense attorney David Grudberg, of New Haven firm Jacobs, Grudberg, Belt & Dow, told Kavanewsky that, because there was a five-year statute of limitations in effect for bringing class A felony charges — including murder — against a defendant, Skakel cannot be tried for murder under the law. Citing Connecticut Supreme Court cases State v. Paradise and State v. Ellis, Grudberg said the law, C.G.S. Section 54-193, was “crystal clear” that the case against Skakel, who was charged just last year, should be dismissed. Grudberg argued that in Paradise and Ellis, the defendants were charged seven years after the 1974 slaying of an Enfield, Conn., teen-ager, and the high court upheld a trial court’s decision to dismiss murder charges against the defendants. Although the prosecution later recharged both Paradise and Ellis with capital felony in the murder, the trial court allowed the defense motion to dismiss under res judicata. The supreme court later ruled in Ellis that the statute of limitations in effect did not bar a prosecution outside of five years for capital felony. Grudberg noted that Skakel, a minor at the time of the Moxley murder, was not charged with capital felony. Although the statute was changed in 1976 to bar any limitations on prosecuting either capital felony or class A felony cases, Grudberg said the supreme court has also said the 1976 statute change could not be applied retroactively to Skakel, as the state has suggested. In turn, Fairfield State’s Attorney Jonathan Benedict said the statute of limitations argument wasn’t valid, citing State v. Golino, which said the reach of the state rested in the gravity of the offense. Benedict said that although Golino was charged with capital felony, he and Skakel were comparable since they were both charged under Connecticut’s 1971 penal code with “intentionally causing the death of another person.” After further arguments on Golino from both sides, Kavanewsky joked that “I’m not going to decide the motion on who gets the last word in.” He did credit both prosecution and defense “on the quality of their arguments.” Also during the hearing, Kavanewsky granted the state’s motion to limit “descriptive or flamboyant” remarks about the case, reminding all the attorneys of Practice Book rules. Sherman did not object. Among Sherman’s numerous discovery requests were repeated motions for witness statements, including those of witnesses that the state may have discarded which would serve the defense. Sherman was told several times by Kavanewsky that the discovery requests were “overbroad,” before the judge granted a few of Sherman’s requests for exculpatory reasons only. Among them were motions for the names and addresses of persons with reasonable knowledge of the case, and information on at least four other people considered suspects by the state. Other motions were flatly denied, including a request for personnel records of law enforcement officials on the case, for statements made by witnesses to the grand jury, and a motion for the state to pinpoint a specific time of death. Kavanewsky did grant the state’s motion for Skakel to provide an alibi for the time of Moxley’s death, giving Sherman 20 days to comply. The state was also granted its requests for potential witnesses to be called by the defense. Each side now has 45 days to comply with other motion requests granted last week by Kavanewsky.

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