NORWALK, Conn. – Martha Moxley's mother testified Wednesday that she is haunted by the knowledge that her daughter died in fear and pain, and she urged a judge to sentence Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel to life in prison for the teenager's murder 27 years ago.
At Skakel's sentencing hearing, Dorthy Moxley said she had long prayed her daughter did not see the first blow from the golf club used to beat her to death the night of Oct. 30, 1975, and died quickly.
"I know now that isn't the way that it happened," Moxley said. "I know now that she must have been very frightened and suffered a great deal.
"Michael Skakel sentenced us to life without Martha," Moxley said. "I think it's only fair that he serve a similar sentence."
Skakel, 41, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, was convicted in June of beating Martha to death when they were 15-year-old neighbors in Greenwich. Under the guidelines in effect in 1975, which the court will use in his case, Skakel could receive a minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a maximum of 25 years to life.
Dorthy Moxley spoke after Judge John F. Kavanewsky Jr. rejected defense motions to throw out the jury verdict and order a new trial. Kavanewsky said he will hear more testimony Thursday before imposing a sentence.
Skakel will likely speak during the hearing Thursday, his attorney Michael Sherman said. Sherman said three other Skakel supporters planned to speak as well.
Martha's brother, John, said the murder occurred a few weeks after his 17th birthday and forever changed his life. He said his father could never talk about Martha's death and died relatively young.
"My mother cried all the time for a while," he said. "The intensity of her emotions were frightening to me."
Skakel listened to the Moxley family without visible emotion, but wept as his supporters pleaded with the judge to be lenient. Skakel was visibly thinner and paler than during the trial.
Carol Beck, a neighbor in Windham, N.Y., said Skakel was kind and a "wonderful father" to his 3-year-old son, George. Shannon Hayden described how he had helped her brother with drug and alcohol addiction in 1984.
"I truly believe that without Michael's help my brother would not be alive today," Hayden said.
Skakel's attorneys are trying to get Skakel released on bail pending his appeal.
Kavanewsky rejected arguments that Skakel's defense was hamstrung by the prosecution's failure to turn over a police sketch during the trial.
He also rejected claims that the prosecution inflamed the jury by using an audio-video presentation that included photos of Martha's autopsy and Skakel's voice on a tape describing his actions that night.
The defense said the sketch, a drawing of a man spotted by a police officer the night of the murder, resembles the Skakel family tutor, Kenneth Littleton.
Littleton, who had started his job the day Martha was killed, was an early suspect. During the trial, Skakel's lawyers repeatedly suggested Littleton, who was given immunity from prosecution in the case, was the killer.
Defense attorney Hubert Santos said the sketch would have been critical at the trial if prosecutors had turned it over.
Prosecutor Susann Gill said the defense received all of the police reports that led to the sketch being made, and was given written notice that the sketch existed.
Gill also disputed the idea that the sketch would have influenced jurors. The man in the drawing was identified as a neighbor, and Littleton had an alibi, she said.