HARTFORD,, Conn., Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Kennedy kin Michael Skakel asked the Connecticut Supreme Court Tuesday to toss out a lower court ruling that he be tried as an adult on charges of murdering teenage neighbor Martha Moxley in 1975.
At stake is how long Ethel Kennedy's nephew might spend in custody. If Skakel were to be convicted as a juvenile, he could face a maximum sentence of four years. If convicted as an adult, he could be sentenced from 10 years to life in prison.
The Supreme Court justices heard arguments in the case Tuesday in Hartford. A decision could take months.
Skakel's defense asked the high court to overturn a lower court's decision on Jan. 31 that transferred his case from juvenile to adult court. Both Skakel and Moxley were 15 when she was bludgeoned with a golf club. Skakel is now 41.
Juvenile Court Judge Maureen Dennis had ruled that Skakel should be tried in adult court in part because Connecticut has no juvenile facilities to accommodate a 41-year-old man. Assistant State's Attorney Susan Gill repeated that argument Tuesday.
Skakel defense attorney David Grudberg argued, however, that the case should remain in Juvenile Court because Skakel was 15 at the time of the slaying, and that it would be the state's responsibility to find an appropriate place to confine him if convicted as a juvenile.
Outside the courthouse after the session, the victim's brother, John Moxley, told reporters the Skakel defense is "still looking for wiggle room, so it won't be so bad if there's a conviction."
State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict has indicated the charges against Skakel could be dropped if the Supreme Court puts the case back in Juvenile Court, but Skakel defense attorney Michael Sherman has said that because of pressure from the Moxley family for a resolution of the case, he expected prosecutors would go ahead whether the trial was before a juvenile judge or a Superior Court jury.
Skakel is the nephew of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy.
Skakel lived hear Moxley in the gated Belle Haven section of Greenwich, Conn., when she was killed in October 1975. It wasn't until January 2000, however, that police charged him with the slaying.
After a probable cause hearing in April, Superior Court Judge John Kavanewsky Jr. said there was enough evidence for Skakel's case to proceed to trial. No trial date has been set.
That evidence included witness testimony that Skakel, at a substance abuse facility in Maine, confessed to killing Moxley with a golf club. Police said the golf club was traced to his mother.