CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Dorthy, John Moxley Discuss Skakel's Sentence
Aired August 29, 2002 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, GUEST HOST: Tonight, justice nearly 27 years after the crime. Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel gets 20 to life behind bars for the brutal murder of 15-year-old Martha Moxley in 1975.
Joining us, Martha's mother Dorthy Moxley. Today's sentencing marks the end of a mother's long struggle to see the killer of her teenaged daughter caught and punished. With her, her son, Martha's older brother John Moxley. In Connecticut, best-selling crime writer Dominick Dunne. His work helped revive the investigation and put Michael Skakel on trial.
Like Dorthy Moxley, Dominick lost his own daughter to a horrific killer. And then later, a very different perspective from Michael Skakel's defense attorney -- Mickey Sherman. He still says his client is innocent and promises to appeal.
All that and your phone calls next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Hi, everybody. I'm Nancy Grace in for Larry King tonight. Thank you for being with us this evening. Let me go to the mother of Martha Moxley, Dorthy Moxley is with us.
Mrs. Moxley, I remember when this indictment came down, there were naysayers out there, so-called legal experts that said there would never be conviction, that it would be an acquittal or a mistrial or that somehow in the end the judge would reverse a jury decision and let Skakel go, but it didn't happen that way, did it?
DORTHY MOXLEY, DAUGHTER'S KILLER SENTENCED TODAY: No, and we were blessed with a wonderful jury. I mean, it was a very intelligent jury, a very -- it was definitely a jury of Michael's peers. But they were wonderful. I mean, they listened to everything and they decided that he was guilty, which is amazing, but I was just so proud of them, because I know that they did the right thing.
GRACE: Were you ever afraid that somehow the so-called Kennedy connection, and I'm not so sure that even exists here, but maybe it does -- were you ever afraid that that would somehow come into play and justice would be denied?
D. MOXLEY: There was always a possibility of that happening. But you know, so many very wonderful, dedicated, talented people worked on this for so long that I just couldn't help but feel that we stuck with it and we had faith, we would get a conviction.
GRACE: You're leaving out somebody very important, and that is you. You never gave up. I watched you for years. You never gave up. Were there mornings when you woke up -- I mean, this has been 27 years in the making. Were there mornings when you woke up and thought it's just not worth it, I cannot continue this fight another day?
D. MOXLEY: Oh, I think any mother, any mother who has lost a child would say, that they -- this was terrible. I mean, you can't imagine what happened to Martha. And I think any mother would stay with this until the very end, if there was a shred of hope. Now I know there are some mothers out there and there is very little hope. No one is interested in their cases and there is a possibility nothing will happen.
But if you have just a shred of hope and you know, the people I had helping me, Dominick Dunne, Mark Fuhrman, dedicated lead investigator, and I have my son, you know, I had hope.
GRACE: You know, it's been said so many times that there is no stronger love in this world than between a mother and her child. And you certainly have proven that over 27 years. John, let me go to you. You have kept your mom going. You've stayed right in there fighting the good fight after your father passed away. You were in the courtroom today. What did you think Michael Skakel's address to the court?
JOHN MOXLEY, SISTER'S KILLER SENTENCED TODAY: I thought it was too little too late. I think the time for Michael to -- I think it would have been more appropriate for him to speak up during the trial.
GRACE: You mean when he could be cross examined?
J. MOXLEY: When he could be cross-examined and -- I just, I know it's his constitutional right not to incriminate himself. But come on.
GRACE: Hey, that's in the courtroom. You had to have your own private thoughts.
J. MOXLEY: Absolutely. If you're being tried for murder, I would do anything and everything I could do to stand up and say, warts and all, here I am, I may not be perfect but I'm not a murderer, and he never did that.
GRACE: You know, I've been looking over the trial transcript, looking at the various statements, including the Sutton Report, and Dominick, I'm going to get to you in a moment about that Sutton Report that you helped uncover, but Michael Skakel changed his story several times over the years. How?
J. MOXLEY: Well, first of all, he had gone to the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) house, come back, went to bed, that is it. And then in '91, when Dr. Henry Lee was getting involved and there was threat of DNA, the Skakels hired the Sutton Associates. The Sutton Associates told or must have told him, look, if there is anything out there, you have got to account for it.
GRACE: Anything as in DNA. J. MOXLEY: DNA, exactly. So that's when Michael initially came up with the being in the tree masturbating.
GRACE: That's an heck of an alibi. I was in a tree masturbating.
J. MOXLEY: Well, Tommy changed his story, too.
GRACE: Yes, he did.
J. MOXLEY: I mean, everybody from the Skakel family changed their story. And you know, the interesting thing, Jimmy Terrien, who said that -- you know, the guys were here, they left.
GRACE: The friend?
J. MOXLEY: The cousin -- left and then I went out and had an affair -- I met a married woman. When he was at the trial, Jimmy Terrien said, well, the guys left and then I went right to bed. When my mom called there, their house at 3:00 in the morning, Jimmy Terrien wasn't there. He wasn't with another woman. She was with Michael and Tommy Skakel cleaning up the crime scene.
GRACE: You know, you seem to have it all figured out. I wonder what took the police so long. I know you two are police supporters. But Dominick Dunne, you know I normally side with police, but I was shocked to find out that at the time Martha was murdered, not one person on police force had ever investigated a murder.
DOMINICK DUNNE, COVERED SKAKEL TRIAL FOR "VANITY FAIR": That's right. That's right. They hadn't had a murder there in 25 years or something.
GRACE: It's not their fault.
DUNNE: But you know -- listen, Nancy, I wanted to tell you something, though, about the entire Skakel family and friends in the courtroom. It was really very, very interesting.
I mean, you know, this sentencing went on for two days, not one. And yesterday, in the courtroom there were probably 20 there, and when Michael came in he was handcuffed and his feet were shackled.
And he looked quite different after the three months in jail in the Garner Institute, and he lost a little weight. But he'd gotten the ruddy look was gone, he was very sort of pasty. And as he walked into -- with the guards from the prison, all -- this was so choreographed, all of the members of the Skakel family, all 20 and friends, all rose and one said, "God bless you, Michael." And another said, "Love you, Michael."
It was like an actor coming on stage. And then he crossed and sat down and then they undid -- then they unlocked his handcuffs. And -- there were so many Skakel dramas going on there. When Dorthy Moxley, wonderful Dorthy Moxley, and you spoke so beautifully about her, Nancy, and she is the linchpin of this whole thing, without her this never would have happened, but when Dorthy Moxley was making her impact statement to the judge, she said something about the Skakel family causing delays and obstacles and so forth and Julie Skakel, the daughter in the family, got up and walked out.
You know, making a statement, walking out of the courtroom. And then when John Moxley, whom I have grown to admire so much over these years, and when John Moxley was making his impact statement to the judge, saying what loss of Martha had meant to him, and then -- he asked for the maximum sentence, when he came down and he went back to his seat, there is an aunt in the family, Ethel Kennedy's sister, called Ann McCooey (ph), who had already, by the way, called me a jerk -- which is OK, because I know they don't like me.
GRACE: Dominick, that's enough to be thrown in contempt right there.
DUNNE: But wait a minute, that's OK, I don't mind that. But when John Moxley, the brother of the murdered girl, walked by, Ann Skakel McCooey (ph), the aunt of the murderer, she said to him, "You son of a bitch."
DUNNE: I just found that so shocking.
GRACE: You know, what, Dominick, I was kidding for a moment about contempt of court. We have got to go to break, Dominick, but you know, in a lot courtrooms that type of behavior at sentencing, after a jury has put in months of work, the court system, the victims family, everybody, that would result in a contempt charge -- that did not happen today. But what did happen today was a sentence for Michael Skakel, Kennedy cousin, 20 to life in the murder case connected to the death of 15-year-old Martha Moxley.
Justice delayed but not denied. Stay with us.
GRACE: Welcome back, everybody. I'm Nancy Grace from Court TV in for Larry King tonight. Thank you for being with us this evening. Here in the studio with me, you probably know her very well by now. She's the mother of 15-year-old Martha Moxley. Dorthy Moxley is with us. She championed her daughter's case for 27 long years before finally a sentence today in the case against Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel.
Also with her, Martha's brother, John Moxley is with us. Joining us from Connecticut, Dominick Dunne, you know him well. Dominick, you just brought up a very interesting story of John getting called an SOB in the courtroom today. John, what about it?
J. MOXLEY: I just finished with my impact statement and I was walking back and I was -- it's a very strange experience to stand up in front of the judge and the jury, and I was kind of looking around, and I was looked over to my left and there she was and I recognized her, and she was visibly shaking, muttering something, and then she said, "You s.o.b." I was shocked. I couldn't believe it.
DUNNE: She didn't say s.o.b., John.
J. MOXLEY: No, she was a bit more colorful.
DUNNE: She said the full words.
J. MOXLEY: Yes. And I went back and said to my mother, I said, "She just called me a son of a bitch. I was in shock.
GRACE: Did the judge hear that?
J. MOXLEY: No, she said it pretty quietly, but she said it -- she's looking me directly in the eyes.
GRACE: You know what? That's a heck of a note, after you have given a victim impact statement, after 27 years since your sister was murdered and body left out there in the cold of the night.
J. MOXLEY: Well, you know, Nancy, why does it surprise anybody? You know, think about it.
GRACE: Well, people do a lot of things in secret but in an open courtroom.
J. MOXLEY: It's the same message that they've been sending us for 27 years, just yesterday it was a different messenger. It's consistent. Michael was mouthing off to jurors -- no, to witnesses in the various -- like the transfer to Superior Court.
He'd see a hostile witness, and he was threatening them. You (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you...
GRACE: You know, I seem to remember something about that during the trial, what happened?
J. MOXLEY: Well, Jimmy Terrien, again...
J. MOXLEY: No, cousin. Pillar of integrity. Says his little act up on stage and then Michael says, good job. Now, the interesting thing, I think, was when Terrien got off the stage, Michael stood up to give him a hug, Jimmy steered clear and headed right out the aisle and up the aisle and out the courthouse.
DUNNE: Cut him dead.
GRACE: You know, Dominick, I hear you. Question to you: you have been in the courtroom from the get-go to the bitter end. What went down in that courtroom today?
DUNNE: Well, I mean, it was a fascinating day. I have to say that. It was the first time that we ever heard Michael Skakel talk. And he was very emotional. He was crying all of the way through it. And -- but he was blaming a lot of people other than himself. And when he turned around and he said there is a writer -- I thought he was coming to me, but instead went to Mark Fuhrman, and he said that he caused me to lose my job and it was -- feeling sorry for himself. Then he went on to a whole thing about God. And the spiritual life, and I do believe that totally that he's into the spiritual life, but at one time he kind of compared himself to Jesus Christ.
GRACE: I've got that right here, Dominick. In fact, I've got a transcript, and he says, you know, Christ didn't have a job. What's wrong with that? Why should he have to go to jail for that? Was he a bad person for that? And that's just like me, I don't have a job.
GRACE: I don't think that went down very well.
DUNNE: I don't think that went down very well. And then, he told the most extraordinary thing. Now, the fact is he is terrifically in love with his little boy, his 3-year-old child. But if he had the conversation with that 3-year-old child that he said he had, I just can't believe, you know, being a grandfather myself, I know how 3-year-olds talk, and this 3-year-old said, "When those bad men in Connecticut at the jail, daddy, and mommy hates you," and it was a very adult conversation that he quoted his 3-year-old son as having. And...
GRACE: So you're saying you don't believe it?
DUNNE: Well, I didn't believe that conversation, no, I didn't believe that conversation.
GRACE: In a few moments we'll hear from Mickey Sherman, the defense lawyer, and I'm going to ask him about this statement that Skakel gave in the courtroom today. Very interesting point, Dominick. Let me ask you this, Mrs. Moxley. Today, when the sentence finally came down, were you relieved, happy, exhausted, morose, empty, what?
D. MOXLEY: For one thing I'm very tired, very, very tired. But I felt a great sense of pride. I really did. I was just -- proud as I could be of everyone that -- because so many people have helped me. And so -- the people in Connecticut couldn't have been nicer. I mean, people in Stanford and Norwalk and Greenwich couldn't have been nicer.
And everyone that worked in the courtroom. And also, there was a feeling in the courtroom that was kind. I mean, there wasn't a vindictive sort of mean sort of feeling in the courtroom. All the reporters went according to the rules. Everyone was friendly. Everyone -- nobody shoved or pushed -- it was -- just -- so...
GRACE: I've listened to you so many times and watched you. Whenever you're asked a question, you talk about how kind everyone has been, and how you've been helped and been given strength. But what about you? What do you feel now? What's next? What did you feel when you heard the judge finally, after 27 years, lay down a sentence?
D. MOXLEY: Well, after the verdict, I was very -- I was very let down. It was just as if all of the air was taken out of my sail. I was just very blah. So I sat around for maybe two or three weeks and just couldn't do anything. And then I gradually became back to my fighting self. And, today -- you know, it was -- well, it was terrific. It was wonderful.
GRACE: Why do you think you felt blah, though? Because you had fought so long for this thing, for this verdict, then it came and then you still have that empty bedroom where Martha slept and...
D. MOXLEY: Yes, yes.
GRACE: And you still have to deal with the fact that she's gone. And the verdict, I know, didn't heal that hurt for you.
D. MOXLEY: No. And then I had to write the impact statement. And I -- any mother who has ever had to write an impact statement, any victim who's ever had to write an impact statement, it's a very, very, very difficult thing to do, because I hadn't permitted myself to think things like, you know, what kind of a prom dress would she have worn, or who would she have married. I thought that was just destructive thinking, and it did nothing but hurt me, so I didn't think about those things.
So writing the impact statement, those were things you just had to think about. And so that was hard. It was very hard, because I'm a positive thinker. I like to think of things in a positive way. And like today, I mean I truly, when I say I felt a great sense of pride, I looked at Jonathan Benedict and I looked at Frank Garr and I thought, you are just wonderful.
GRACE: See, there you go again. When I ask you about you, you find strength and wonderful things about other people.
But I've got to say, I've never heard you mention in all this time her prom dress she might have worn, whether she would have gotten married and had children. It's certainly something for us to think about.
D. MOXLEY: I mean, I have this group of friends that I call my angels. And actually, I think -- I don't know, there are six or seven angels that I have. And these are people that just came to me to help. And I didn't ask them and didn't tell them anything to do, and they just did these wonderful things.
And I sat there yesterday and today and I thought, isn't this wonderful? There are -- I mean, I think there's actually -- there was only one that wasn't there, and he's off running around Paris or Mongolia or someplace.
GRACE: I want to ask you about those angels in just a moment. I imagine one of them is Dominick Dunne...
D. MOXLEY: Oh, absolutely. GRACE: ... and we're going to be going to him.
Everyone, Dominick Dunne is with us from Connecticut, whose series of articles and a book helped revive this case off the dead docket. He'll be joining us, as well as Dorthy Moxley, Martha's mother and her brother, who's been a rock for the Moxley family throughout. Stay with us.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
DUNNE: ... guest in Greenwich. So I wanted to check it out; it was not true. He was not there.
But it got me reinterested in that case. And then I found out that Mr. Moxley had died and Mrs. Skakel had left and moved to Annapolis. I tracked her down, I went to see her. I said, you know, there's nobody there working for you if you're not there pushing, and so forth. And she and I met in a coffee shop. She didn't even let me into her house at that time. And then I said to her, I could write a novel -- I'd written about four best selling novels in a row that had all been made into mini -- and I said I could do this again and put your daughter's case back in the spotlight. And that's what happened.
GRACE: And you did it, Dominick, you really did.
But, you know, I don't blame her for meeting you in a public place, you're a pretty scary character.
DUNNE: No, but then other people came in. I'm not the only one. But I...
GRACE: I know, but you're the one that heated that case up, a case that had been cold for a really long time.
There's one thing I wish you would explain to me and our viewers tonight. At the beginning the brother Tommy Skakel was the prime suspect, that's no secret. How did he get ruled out and attention focused on Michael?
DUNNE: Well, I'll tell you. Tommy Skakel, for 20 years or more, was the main suspect in this case. He was the last person known to have seen her alive and so forth. And he -- but what was interesting is that in the trial he was not called by either side.
Now, the fact remains is, on the night of that murder, there was a jealousy between the two, Michael and Tommy, over Martha. And my feeling is that Michael, who was a drunk 15-year-old at the time, couldn't clean up that mess and all that blood by himself, nor could he probably drag Martha's body the 80 feet without some help. And my feeling has always been that that person was Tommy, but that's only my theory, I have to say that. But the fact is...
GRACE: Well Dominick, I agree with you when neither side calls a witness, something definitely stinks. DUNNE: Neither side called him, and he made one token appearance at the trial. And yesterday he was there in the courtroom yesterday, but he did not come back today. And you would think, for the sentencing of his brother, that he would be there. I thought it was very odd that Tommy Skakel was not there today.
GRACE: That is very odd. Let me ask Dorthy a question.
I was thinking back on the facts of the case, the way that night played out. When -- I know they first focused on Tommy Skakel and then later on Michael.
When did you believe in your heart that it was Michael? What made you think that?
D. MOXLEY: Actually, Dominick called me one morning and said, Dorthy I know who killed Martha: It was Michael.
DUNNE: That's right. That was the Sutton Report.
D. MOXLEY: That was the Sutton Report.
D. MOXLEY: Go ahead Dominick.
DUNNE: I was going to tell you how that came into being, because nobody knew about it. And the Sutton Agency was a private detective agency in New York hired by Rushton Skakel, and they all signed confidentiality oaths, and they had access to the Skakel kids, the six sons and the daughter in a way that the Greenwich police never really had. And they worked three years on the job. I think the bill was $750,000. And before they turned in the report to Mr. Skakel, Rushton Skakel, they hired someone to put this in kind of a chronological order, into a scenario form that he could understand.
And I can't say the person's name, but he was so distressed when Skakel paid the money and -- Mr. Skakel paid the money and they put the report in the back of a file cabinet. This person somehow lifted that thing and he brought it to me. And I read it and I called Dorthy.
And then I eventually gave it to Frank Garr, the inspector. And when things weren't moving fast enough to suit me, I brought in Mark Fuhrman. And he came here to this very house where I am, and I showed him the report.
And Mark Fuhrman is a friend of mine and one of the great detectives of America. And I called Dorthy and I said, I know he's got this rep, that thing and so forth form the O.J. trial, but please meet with him. And Dorthy and Mark Fuhrman got along, and he was an enormous help.
GRACE: Wow. So you're saying this Sutton report that had been ordered by Skakel's father, Rushton Skakel, really blew the case wide open. Everybody, we've got to take a break. Stay with us.
GRACE: Welcome back everybody. I'm Nancy Grave from Court TV in for Larry King tonight.
Today a sentence went down in a New England courtroom, a Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel sentenced almost to life -- that's 20 years to life behind bars in a case that is now 27 years old. It dates back to the death of 15-year-old Martha Moxley.
Here in the studio me, her mother, Dorthy and her brother John.
John, question to you. We've talked about this Sutton Report. It was a report that was ordered by Skakel's father, Rushton Skakel, and basically damned his own sons in the case of Martha Moxley.
But what finally focused authority's attention on Michael, not Tommy?
J. MOXLEY: You know Nancy, it was actually very simple. Michael changed his story under the threat of DNA evidence. That put him at all of the right places at all of the right times doing something that would explain everything.
And I'll give you examples: masturbating in a tree; that would account for the DNA.
GRACE: You mean DNA on Martha's body. And it is no secret Martha was bludgeoned to death. She was stabbed with a 6 iron that came from Skakel's mother's golf set. And her clothes had been partially removed, although there's no evidence that she was raped. She was found in that condition out in the cold of the night.
J. MOXLEY: Well -- and there's so much more than that.
He says in his story that, you know, he hears voices, so he's throwing rocks. You know, the same motion that somebody would do with a golf club, you know, if they were hitting somebody.
You know, he says that he calls out to somebody, which would account for why there might be loud voices or something.
He says he, you know, runs back -- you know, he sees somebody, he says, oh my God, if they see me going this way, what's going to happen?
GRACE: But why would he have been concerned about that if he didn't know Martha had been killed?
J. MOXLEY: Well, that's exactly right.
And when he changed his story, he effectively put himself everywhere that Martha would have been, doing something that would account everything that would have had to have happened. So, it's that simple.
GRACE: When the Skakels realize that Dr. Henry Lee was in on the case, the leading forensic expert in this country, they suddenly assumed there was DNA and had to explain it.
J. MOXLEY: They panicked.
GRACE: So the changing of the stories, Dominick Dunne, would you say that that was the smoking gun in this case, when Skakel started changing his story radically?
GRACE: Wait, we're forgetting about the 12 so-called confessions. Now, Mickey Sherman will tell me those confessions really didn't really happen. But what else did he have do, take out a billboard on 3rd Avenue and say, I did it, please believe me?
DUNNE: But I'll tell you what, there is a reporter on this case called Len Levitt, who has been on it with the -- from the very beginning. And it was he who first broke the thing in the papers about Michael changing his story from being at the house, to masturbating in the tree.
GRACE: Whoa. That's a tough one to comprehend: balancing yourself in the top of a tree, masturbating while a murder goes down a few feet way.
I'll let Mickey Sherman explain that one shortly.
Right now I want to take a phone call.
DUNNE: You now...
GRACE: Let me take this phone call...
DUNNE: Well I just want to tell you this...
GRACE: Go ahead Dominick.
GRACE: Let me take this call from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
CALLER: Yes, I have a question for Dominick.
CALLER: The question: Will Michael Skakel serve his team in an elite prison, and actually serve 20 or more years, or get out early?
GRACE: Good question. Dominick, could you hear that?
DUNNE: Yes, I could hear it. You know, I think, you know, for good behavior, I think they have to go back to the 1975 ruling, yes he could get out after -- I can't -- John could probably help me on this.
How many years?
J. MOXLEY: He'll be eligible for parole in about 12 years. But that's...
DUNNE: With 20 to life, with the life on the other end, he's got to go before a parole board.
J. MOXLEY: He's got to go before a parole board. And just because he's got the right to be considered for parole doesn't mean that he'll get parole.
And it also means that for the next 12 years he's got to behave. And if he doesn't behave, that time off for good behavior goes away. So all of a sudden, there's a lot of mitigating factors that could keep him in prison for a long, long time.
GRACE: You know, there's been a lot made of a so-called Kennedy cover-up. And while I think maybe that family is powerful enough to do that, would they risk everything and try to tamper with justice? Do you think there was a cover-up?
J. MOXLEY: You know, I don't. I think that the...
DUNNE: No, I don't either.
J. MOXLEY: Unfortunately, the Greenwich Police Department didn't know what they were doing in 1975. But -- because there hadn't been any homicides there. And that's why you lived in someplace like Greenwich.
GRACE: Well, I think that it also some from the fact, as Mrs. Moxley was discussing, nobody would speak to police at the time. The Skakels would not speak to police. None of the boys gave a statement.
Is that right?
J. MOXLEY: Well, they talked. They let them into the house, they talked.
But the reality is, is that Michael, Tommy, Terrien and Ken Littleton left the next day and went up to Windham.
GRACE: Became suddenly unavailable.
J. MOXLEY: If the police had been savvy. You know, if this happened in New York City or someplace where this happens all of the time, they would have locked everybody down. They would have said, all right, you're staying here, we're going to get a search warrant, we're going to go through your house, we're going to find out what's going on.
But you know something, what they lacked in experience, they made up for in sweat.
GRACE: Their perseverance.
J. MOXLEY: That's right.
GRACE: Everybody, quick break.
Stay with us.
GRACE: Welcome back. I'm Nancy Grace from Court TV in for Larry King. Thank you for being with us.
Mrs. Moxley, question to you, if you could sit down, one-on-one with Michael Skakel, what, if anything, would you want to ask him or say to him?
D. MOXLEY: I'd like to say, Michael, tell me exactly what did happen that night.
GRACE: The curiosity, it must be overwhelming to know, and I think it would be devastating to actually try to think it through and imagine exactly what happened. Have you ever done that?
D. MOXLEY: Oh, many times. Many, many times. And I've worked out several scenarios in my mind.
GRACE: Yes. Do you think he would be honest with you?
D. MOXLEY: I would hope so. But I don't know.
GRACE: Let me ask you this, John. If you had the same opportunity, what would you have to say or ask Michael Skakel?
J. MOXLEY: I would ask him to think about his son and think about how he feels for him and how we feel for Martha, and ask him what do you think it's done to us, 27 years, life sentence, never going to be with her again, never share the experiences with him, how do we differ from you?
GRACE: You know, you stated a life sentence, but Martha got a death penalty.
J. MOXLEY: That's right.
GRACE: There is a big difference. Were you happy with the sentence today? Not that you could be happy about this whole scenario, but were you at least vindicated?
J. MOXLEY: You know, it's very funny. I don't know the right words yet. But it's very difficult to put a value on my sister's life in the context of 20 years to life with the parole. All these moving pieces, and it breaks it down to this very simple thing that is not simple at all. And it's going to take a long time for it to sink in, what it means. You know, where it's going to go. I think tomorrow we concentrate on mowing the lawn and doing what we need do, and take one step at a time.
GRACE: You know, even when you think you have won a case, you got the verdict that you believe in, I don't believe I've left a courtroom without a broken heart, because it's a band-aid, but underneath the band-aid there is still the cut, there's still the wound.
J. MOXLEY: You know, one of the sad things about all of this, too, is that Michael Skakel apparently has done lots good acts. He's very involved in Alcoholics Anonymous and he's apparently a very good counselor. And you know, it's just sad across the board that he's thrown his life way.
He took Martha's life way.
GRACE: I got to tell you, you're being kinder than I ever was, looking book. Mrs. Moxley, I wanted to ask you this, it just seems to me that after all these years that there has got to be a legacy, there's got to be a message that Martha's life had.
D. MOXLEY: Yes, I'm not quite sure that what is right now, but I'm sure that some positive thing will come out of this. Maybe today a spark was lit in somebody who will come up with a new way of teaching how to solve homicides.
Or a new way of preparing the police departments or maybe it will help just other mothers who have lost children. I know -- there is something has to be -- something positive has to come out of this. And I do -- one very positive thing was, I think I said before how proud I felt. I felt, the prosecution, they did such a wonderful job. I just felt so proud of them. I really did.
GRACE: It's a hard fought battle. Dominick Dunne, before I let you go, what do you think? In the end, what was it all about?
DUNNE: I just wanted to say one thing here, you know, Steve Dunleavey of the "New York Post" wrote something about me yesterday that really offended me. He was very much pro-Michael Skakel and I was on the other side, and that's the way it's supposed to be.
This is America, that's fine.
But he said that I would be celebrating tonight. I'm not celebrating tonight. I mean, it's a very sad thing. And at the last minute today before they took Michael out and put his handcuffs back on him and he turned and kind of smiled good-bye to his family, I have to tell you, it was very, very moving, and I felt sorry for the guy. Because of the total waste of his life. If it had been dealt with when he was 15 years old, it would have been all over four years later and he could have had a life.
And now he's got this wonderful child and he's going to be away from him for 12 years. It was sad.
GRACE: Well, you know, Dominick, as you well know, Lady Justice is blind to everything except the truth. Dominick Dunne, thank you, friend. I want to say a special thank you to you, John Moxley.
J. MOXLEY: Thank you.
GRACE: Thank you, Mrs. Moxley.
D. MOXLEY: Thank you, Nancy, for having me.
GRACE: Everyone, we are taking a break. Stay with us.
GRACE: Good evening. I'm Nancy Grace in for Larry King tonight. Thank you for being with us. Joining me on the set in New York, Michael Skakel's defense attorney -- some people have called him flamboyant but he fought tooth and claw for his client Michael Skakel. Long story short, your man went to the pen today. Thoughts on the sentence?
MICHAEL SHERMAN, SKAKEL DEFENSE ATTY: Well, you know, as I said, it's probably a fair sentence if he was guilty. I still have an absolute unshakable faith in his innocence. So it makes it pretty difficult to swallow, but at the same token I respect the jury's verdict.
GRACE: Now Mickey, there were nearly a dozen confessions or statements, admissions, whatever you want to call them...
SHERMAN: I disagree, there were not a dozen confessions. There came down to basically two alleged confessions, one by Mr. Hickens (ph)...
GRACE: You always manage to work in the word alleged in everything I ask you. I respect that.
SHERMAN: Not at all. I don't think they were confessions. A lot of people don't think they were confessions.
GRACE: I did it?
SHERMAN: Well, no, not quite.
GRACE: I'll get away with it because I'm a Kennedy?
SHERMAN: I don't believe for a moment that he ever said that.
GRACE: Twelve people were lying.
SHERMAN: Not twelve. Two people did not testify accurately, not in my opinion.
That opinion is shared by a lot people, obviously not by those 12 folks on jury.
GRACE: Yes. Let me ask this: today at sentencing, the judge had some discretion. Your client, and I'm looking at the transcript from the sentencing today, quote, "and as far a job is concerned, I mean, what did Jesus Christ do? He walked around the world telling people he loved them. Should he go to jail for that? Was he a bad person?"
He compared himself to Christ.
SHERMAN: No he didn't. Michael Skakel -- Michael Skakel is a devout Roman Catholic, and you know something, it's that faith that's probably going to get him through the next many years here. And it's served him well. He's also, as you know, a very passionate member of Alcoholics Anonymous, of which religion is a great part as well.
And all he did was share his belief in God and Jesus Christ with the court. He was in no way comparing himself to Jesus Christ.
GRACE: Well, it looks to me like he's saying I've never had a job and neither did Christ. Do I have to go to jail?
SHERMAN: No, he was reacting, and I think very appropriately, to John Benedict's, the state's attorney, criticism, well, you never had a real job, you've only had these great jobs that were given to you by the Kennedy family, and he was just trying to defend himself by showing, you know something, jobs really don't make the man. And he's right about that.
GRACE: But did he? Did he ever have a real job?
SHERMAN: Yes, he did.
SHERMAN: Yes, he did. We talked about it at length in the sentencing. He worked for very many organizations. He worked for AmeriCares, he did volunteer service, and of course he worked for Citizens Energy with the Kennedy family.
GRACE: Mickey, a job is not a job unless you get paid for it, unless you're punching a clock. Volunteering...
SHERMAN: Are you defined by your job or are you defined by the content of your character? We've spent a lot of time today, and I think we made an impression on the job, who in fact shaved five years off the sentence, I believe, because he saw that Michael Skakel has spent last 27 years helping other people.
Granted, he wasn't a CEO or living on, working on Wall Street.
GRACE: I didn't hear a about a job, though.
SHERMAN: It's not important.
GRACE: OK, gotcha!
SHERMAN: It's not important as to what you do. It's important as to how you deal with other people.
GRACE: OK, were you surprised at the sentence?
SHERMAN: No. First of all, in this case at this point, nothing surprises any of us. It's been one rocky road after another for the last four years here. But it was quite likely the judge was going to give the maximum sentence. This was a horrific crime, and even though we believe Michael Skakel didn't commit it, the jury simply...
GRACE: Mickey, you have already vowed that you will appeal. On what grounds?
SHERMAN: There is a lot of appeal grounds. I don't want to go into it, and I'm not handling the appeal. I'm just the trial lawyer here. We have got some great people who will take care of that. The obvious issues, of course, we know, because we've already dealt with them. But the statute of limitations -- we feel there was a five-year statute in effect at the time.
GRACE: On murder?
SHERMAN: Right. The transfer to -- from juvenile court to adult court, which we don't think was appropriate, and then there's a whole host of issues that came up during the trial.
GRACE: But haven't those two specific issues already been decided by an appellate court?
SHERMAN: No, not at the appellate level.
GRACE: I thought they went up on immediate review.
SHERMAN: No, the Supreme Court actually told us with respect to the transfer, there is no final judgment yet. So come back us to if there is a final judgment. Of course today we have a final judgment.
GRACE: That's where you're headed there. Long story short, will he do, what, 20 years, when he comes up for parole? When will that be?
SHERMAN: It's a mystery to all of us, and that's why we tried to urge the judge today, don't take into account, don't discount what you're going to give him or add on based upon what you think is going to happen. As you probably know from being a state's attorney, when you're in the corrections department, court has nothing more to do with it.
GRACE: That's true.
SHERMAN: You're up to the commissioner of corrections or the warden. And they decide what happens. And in this case, it's even more (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at the mercy of a parole board. I'm not saying that those folks have no compassion, but this is always going to be the Kennedy murder case.
GRACE: Well, you know, there have already been claims that he's getting special treatment behind bars. SHERMAN: That's nothing less than silly. He's not getting any special treatment. What they're talk about is during a five or six hour interview by the probation department, he asked to go the bathroom, which is not an unreasonable request, but instead of having him go back to his cell, they let him use the guard's bathroom or a different bathroom during a five or six hour interview, and the other special favor was when his cousin Robert Kennedy Jr. was visiting him, he was allowed to come during an attorney's visit.
Well, you know something? He is an attorney. What's the big deal?
GRACE: I think it's because he's not his attorney.
SHERMAN: Well, why not?
GRACE: Well, I didn't see him in the courtroom.
SHERMAN: He was there during one of the preliminary hearings.
GRACE: In the spectator in gallery crowd.
SHERMAN: What is the big deal? You know, the media would have you believe that they were delivering Baluga caviar to the cell.
GRACE: Message to self, if ever charged with murder, hire Mickey Sherman. Why didn't your guy take the stand?
SHERMAN: I didn't think we needed to do it. Maybe I was wrong. You have tried enough cases to know, we had his version of the incident out there, we had his denial of his culpability here, and we had it in his words on a tape.
I didn't feel we needed to go beyond that. I felt that his exposure, his vulnerability, not to having been culpable, but just his general vulnerability, which we saw today, was not going to be helpful.
GRACE: That reminds me, apparently one of the relatives turned to John Moxley today, after John Moxley gives his victim impact statement, and called him an s.o.b. They didn't use the initials in the courtroom. This is in a court of law, Mickey.
SHERMAN: It was yesterday, first of all, not that that makes a big difference. And I spoke to everybody involved. This was a horrific tragedy for both families, and of course, as you've seen, there's nobody classier than John and Dorthy Moxley. And John forgave her. John was a real gentleman about it. And she also was very apologetic as well...
GRACE: Well, in the heat of a courtroom.
SHERMAN: It's not only just the heat of a courtroom. Both families...
GRACE: Well, Mickey, we watched you the entire trial, don't agree with you, but I respect the job that you did. You put up a heck of a fight.
SHERMAN: Take care.
GRACE: And I know you're going to take it on appeal, ultimately.
SHERMAN: Thank you.
GRACE: Thank you, Mickey.
Everybody, I'm signing off. Thank you to my guests. And tomorrow night, Jerry Lewis as he heads into his telethon.
Thanks for being with us. Good night.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com