A jury may never get the chance to decide if Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel murdered 15-year-old Martha Moxley 26 years ago.

Lawyers for Robert F. Kennedy's nephew say murder charges should be dismissed because of a five-year statute of limitations that was in effect at the time of the 1975 slaying.

Skakel's lawyers say that state law at the time set a five-year limit for prosecution of all cases except those that could carry the death penalty. Skakel, now 40, is not charged with a capital offense.

Lawyers argued the motion last week. Stamford Superior Judge John F. Kavanewsky Jr. is weighing his decision.

The fact that Kavanewsky is willing even to consider dismissing the case is worrisome to Dorthy Moxley, whose daughter was beaten to death with a golf club in October 1975 in a wealthy Greenwich, Conn., neighborhood. The club was traced to a set owned by the Skakel family.

"It would be a terrible injustice," Moxley said Friday. "It would be devastating to me."