TODAY   |  January 25, 2012

Moxley family on killer: ‘He should stay in jail’

As Kennedy relative Michael Skakel fights to reduce his jail sentence for the 1975  murder of Martha Moxley, her mother and brother say they’d like to see him remain in prison for the rest of his life.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> kennedy cousin and convicted killer michael skakel is appealing for a reduced prison sentence . we'll talk to the victim's mother and brother in a moment. first, craig melvin has details on this.

>> reporter: good morning. michael skakel appealed his sentence before, several times in fact. yesterday in the courtroom he didn't ask for forgiveness or apologize to the moxley family. instead as the moxley family and his looked and listened his attorney said the sentence was too harsh. a cuffed, shackled and bigger 51-year-old michael skakel still insists he's innocent.

>> i didn't commit this crime.

>> reporter: the kennedy cousin stood in a connecticut courtroom tuesday and asked a three-judge panel to reduce his 20-year sentence for killing martha moxley .

>> give me a polygraph. i have passed three sodium pent thol tests.

>> reporter: a jury convicted michael skakel in 2002 for the brutal 1975 killing that shook their greenwich, connecticut, neighborhood. police say skakel, a troubled youth bludgeoned moxley to death with a golf club . both were 15 at the time. the case went unsolved for 25 years. in 2000 police arrested skakel, a nephew of ethel kennedy . moxley 's mother shared her relief on "today."

>> for years everyone said nothing would happen. everyone said, don't get your hopes up. but, you know, we have proved all these people have worked so long that if you stick with it you truly can find justice.

>> reporter: lawyers who argued his trial was tainted by distorted media coverage and bad publicity didn't argue innocence tuesday. instead they said the trial should have happened in a juvenile courtroom with a maximum sentence of four years.

>> they looked at him as having committed a murder at that age. when, in fact, according to the jury verdict he committed the murder when he was a child.

>> i pray for mrs. moxley every single day. i actually pray for her daughter every day.

>> reporter: martha 's family wasn't moved.

>> michael belongs in jail for life.

>> look at the years he was free and running around while we were a mess trying to find out what happened. so why should he get out now?

>> reporter: some legal experts say he probably won't.

>> highly unlikely that he will win, get out early. these issues have been litigated already. even if he was prosecuted when he was 15 years old, he still would have been prosecuted as an adult.

>> reporter: the judges are expected to issue a ruling on skakel's most recent request in about two months. michael skakel is eligible for parole in 2013 . ann?

>> craig melvin, thank you so much. martha 's mother and brother, dorothy and john moxley join us this morning. good morning to you both.

>> good morning.

>> john, you told the judge yesterday that time does not heal all wounds. revisiting this has been tough for your family.

>> you go through all the things in everyday life . your friends have brothers and sisters , your kids have friends and every day, every way it's a death of a thousand cuts . it's always there. it's always something you're thinking about. not all the time but it comes to you and when it comes to you it's unmistakable.

>> despite every wish to not have it come to you here you are this morning. dorothy , what do you want to say about the effort by michael skakel to have his sentence reduced because he was a juvenile at the time of the crime?

>> giving no thought at all to the victims. because we have suffered every day from the time martha was killed until today and he is complaining he wants to get out of jail because he's only had to suffer for nine and a half years. you know, i'm sorry. but i think he should stay in jail -- you know, he was tried by a jury of his peers. and they found him guilty and he is constantly coming up with some reason for getting out. some reason why he should be out of jail and we have gone through all these things. i mean, the court has gone over all of these issues. it was a very well-run trial and he should just take his sentence and be done with it. i think.

>> as you know, he's still maintaining his innocence. he says he prays for you, dorothy , and your family every day including martha . you're not moved by that at all?

>> no. his family did many things to try and see what was going on, i guess what was in his head, what he had done. they sent him to special schools . they had him tested by special doctors. why would they do all that if they didn't suspect? if they didn't know? they know something has happened. other neighbors didn't have their children tested and sent to special schools . the detective that worked on the case, the investigators. i mean, it was done so beautifully. exactly the way things should be done.

>> john, do you think this is going to be something you will be fighting for some time? we heard craig report he's up for parole in 2013 . you have two months to wait before the judge makes a decision. up to two months before a judge makes a decision on this to reduce his sentence. have you resigned yourself that this is something you will be fighting?

>> absolutely. it is something we'll be doing forever, as long as we have a chance to speak up. we're going to speak up. as long as we have an opportunity to voice our opinions we're going to voice them.

>> how long do you want him to stay in jail?

>> i would like him there for the rest of his life.

>> for life.

>> yeah. we have a life sentence . he'll have good days and bad in jail. martha won't have any days.

>> your son says you stay positive .

>> well, one of the reasons why i'm willing to do things like this, coming on the "today" show, is i'm hoping other victims will e know that you can survive. it is hard. but you can survive and people are wonderful. i mean, i'm not suspect of every person i see as being somebody terrible. people are wonderful. you can survive. you can have a very nice life. you just have to count your blessings .

>> you said it, dorothy moxley . thank you, john. thank you, both of you, for joining us.