Moxley case DNA must be rein­ves­ti­gated

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - MoreOpinion -

Since the Hearst Con­necti­cut Ed­i­to­rial Board has dis­carded the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence in its Jan. 8 ed­i­to­rial, let me pro­vide some bal­ance and a pos­si­ble path for­ward.

Michael Skakel’s wrong­ful con­vic­tion for the mur­der of Martha Moxley is now fi­nally over­turned. Michael was freed from prison in 2013 be­cause a cred­i­ble non- fam­ily wit­ness con­firmed he was miles away when Martha was killed 43 years ago in 1975.

The state of Con­necti­cut has the op­tion to go to trial once again. But the state’s cir­cum­stan­tial case has evap­o­rated. Michael’s al­ibi is now rock solid. Their star wit­ness — de­ceased heroin ad­dict Greg Cole­man — has been fully dis­cred­ited by his own fam­ily at­tor­ney and his con­fes­sion al­le­ga­tions proven false. The de­ceit­ful Pow- erPoint me­dia at clos­ing ar­gu­ments that falsely linked Michael’s recorded voice with grue­some crime scene pho­tos is not go­ing to work against a com­pe­tent de­fense at­tor­ney.

It’s time for the state to come clean about the foren­sic ev­i­dence in its pos­ses­sion and face the re­al­ity that foren­sic science can and should solve this case with cer­tainty.

Prior to the 2002 trial, pros­e­cu­tors de­manded DNA sam­ples from Michael hop­ing to make a me­dia spec­ta­cle of him stonewalling. When he agreed they quickly with­drew the de­mand, know­ing that the only ge­netic ev­i­dence they had at the time — two non-Cau­casian hair sam­ples found at the crime scene — did not be­long to Michael. Both the state and the me­dia ig­nore this crit­i­cal evi- dence and the fact that a match has never been found.

Yale pro­fes­sor David Cameron wrote an Op- Ed in May call­ing for a rein­ves­ti­ga­tion of all the phys­i­cal ev­i­dence in this case us­ing “touch DNA,” which can re­veal skin cells left be­hind on cloth­ing. Dozens of cold cases have been solved across the coun­try since Cameron’s ar­ti­cle in what is be­ing call­ing “the big­gest crime­fight­ing break­through in decades.” A Bos­ton case nearly 50 years old was solved in Novem­ber. The un­ex­plained hairs that do not be­long to any Skakel and the phys­i­cal ev­i­dence in­clud­ing Martha’s cloth­ing must be re- ex­am­ined us­ing these DNA ad­vances to seek a match.

DNA ad­vances have defini­tively solved cold cases this past year in Arkansas, Cal­i­for­nia, Florida, Ge­or­gia, Illi­nois, In­di­ana, Iowa, Mary­land, Mas­sachusetts, Mis­sis­sippi, Mis­souri, North Carolina, Penn­syl­va­nia, Rhode Is­land, South Carolina, Ten­nessee, Texas, Utah and Washington. Why not Con­necti­cut and why not this case?

We know of at least three teenagers who vis­ited the Belle Haven neigh­bor­hood on the day Martha was killed but have never been in­ter­viewed by po­lice. Martha men­tions one of them mul­ti­ple times in her diary. Un­like Michael, all three are a po­ten­tial match with the hair ev­i­dence. Why not use the ad­vances in foren­sic science that are read­ily avail­able and pro­duc­ing stun­ning re­sults in many other states and let the ev­i­dence bring clo­sure and an out­come that can be trusted? John Skakel is one of Michael Skakel’s broth­ers and lives in Port­land, Ore.

Jes­sica Hill / As­so­ci­ated Press

Michael Skakel leaves state Supreme Court af­ter his hear­ing in Hart­ford on Feb. 24. The Supreme Court is leav­ing in place a de­ci­sion that va­cated a mur­der con­vic­tion against Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel. The high court on Mon­day de­clined a re­quest from the state of Con­necti­cut to hear the case.

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