Multimedia Display at Issue in Skakel Appeal

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Michael Skakel

Michael Skakel, shown arriving for his sentencing hearing in August 2002, is serving a 20-year sentence for Martha Moxley's murder. hide caption

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Lawyers for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel are awaiting a ruling in the appeal of his 2002 conviction for the 1975 murder of his teenage neighbor, Martha Moxley. Among several issues in the appeal is a multimedia display presented by prosecutors during final arguments.

Skakel's lawyers call the display a "made-for-conviction movie" that fabricated a confession. The audio-visual display featured a taped interview with Skakel's voice, recorded by an author he'd hired to ghostwrite his autobiography.

Multimedia Under Fire

Martha Moxley

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The prosecution's multimedia display, presented during closing arguments, juxtaposed photos of Martha Moxley with audio of Michael Skakel discussing the night of her murder. Jurors saw photos of Moxley's body at the crime scene; those photos were blurred out in the presentation shown to NPR. Note: This presentation contains language that some listeners may find offensive.

Jurors heard Skakel talk about the night of Moxley's murder and read a transcript of his words. Graphics flashed on a screen, emphasizing key words in red. The phrase "I had a feeling of panic" was juxtaposed next to a photo of Moxley's body at the crime scene.

Quinnipiac University Law School professor Neal Feigenson says prosecutors used the display to clarify their interpretation of Skakel's words. But Skakel's attorneys say the audiotape was deceptively edited and taken out of context.

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