Skakel Judge Rejects Limitations Claim

A judge refused to throw out murder charges against Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel on Tuesday, rejecting defense claims that a statute of limitations was in effect at the time of the 1975 slaying.

Defense lawyer Michael Sherman said he was not surprised by the decision and that an appeal was unlikely.

"I think it's time to go to trial," he said. "I've always felt the most appropriate was to resolve this case is a trial, by a jury."

Skakel, 41, a nephew of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, is charged with killing Martha Moxley, a neighbor who was beaten to death with a golf club. Skakel and Moxley were 15 at the time.

The defense had argued that under laws in effect in 1975, a five-year statute of limitations applied to murder cases, except when those cases could result in the death penalty. Skakel is not charged with a capital crime.

Prosecutor Jonathan Benedict said Connecticut law was never intended to limit the prosecution of murder. State law was changed in 1976 to eliminate time limits for prosecuting serious felonies, including murder.

Stamford Superior Judge John Kavanewsky agreed, saying the "gravity of the offense charged" is more important than the potential penalty.

No arrests were made in the case for more than 24 years. Skakel was charged in January 2000 and arraigned as a juvenile because of his age at the time of the slaying. The case was later transferred to adult court.