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The changes in testimony were explosive, and a Sutton employee leaked them to Len Levitt of Newsday, which ran a story in 1995, and to Dunne. Levitt also reported that interviews with a criminal-profiling group discounted the possibility that Littleton, who had just begun his tutoring job, had killed Martha. The savagery of the deadly blows suggested it was the work of someone who knew her.
Dunne handed his information over to a new friend--Mark Fuhrman of O.J. Simpson-trial fame. Fuhrman had just written a book about the trial and was seeking a possible sequel. (His agent was Linda Tripp's pal Lucianne Goldberg.) With the Sutton material in hand, he headed up to Connecticut and, despite being "harassed" by the police, published his own investigation as Murder in Greenwich in June 1998. Fuhrman believes that testimony from the tutor throws into doubt Michael's original alibi and that his new story is "a concoction that puts him at the scene of the crime, at the time of the crime, without committing it." It appears to have put Skakel in legal jeopardy.
A month after Murder in Greenwich came out, Connecticut impaneled Judge George Thim as its one-man grand jury with the power to compel testimony on the Moxley case. Although prosecutors cannot comment on the decision, it may have been influenced not only by the Sutton leaks but also by another unusual break. After seeing an episode about the case on TV's Unsolved Mysteries, several alumni of the Elan School called to say that between 1978 and 1980 Skakel admitted involvement in Moxley's killing. Three of them were among the 40 witnesses Thim called. Their testimony presumably buttressed the passage in Skakel's book proposal, which Fuhrman says he passed on to authorities.
"Michael Skakel is innocent," says his attorney Mickey Sherman. "He was innocent 24 years ago. He is innocent today." Sherman is a frequent talking head on Court TV and enjoys the sweeping statement. But his follow-up comment, "The evidence was not strong enough 25 years ago, let alone today," has some teeth. Even Fuhrman believes the case will have to move forward "absent forensic evidence." The Sutton report, while intriguing, seems like a better argument for reopening the case than clinching it. And the credibility of Skakel's former "classmates" at Elan is being questioned. Joseph Ricci, who owned the rehab center, has told TIME that the notion of Michael's confession "is just preposterous. I was there, and I would know." The facility had only 100 patients, and if Michael had confessed, "two things would have happened. Everybody in the facility would have known and talked about it. And we would have called our lawyers to figure out our obligations. Neither happened."
Even if the prosecution can make a damning case, it may not be able to touch Skakel. Since the alleged crime was committed when he was a minor, the case resides in Connecticut juvenile court. Under today's state law, a capital case involving a 15- year-old would automatically be remanded to an adult court. But 1975 law required probable cause for that to happen. If the case stays in juvenile court, Skakel would probably draw no jail time even if convicted. (The model in 1975 was juvenile rehabilitation.) If the case is remanded, Sherman has the right to appeal, a process that could take years.