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Connecticut High School Student Scoops Media on Skakel Interview

Girl had written to killer for a journalism class assignment. He responds, saying he's innocent and that he misses his 3-year-old son.

November 17, 2002|From Associated Press

NEWTOWN, Conn. — A high school student has scooped the reporters trying to get prison interviews with Michael Skakel.

Earlier this month, Samantha Ueckerman received a four-page, handwritten letter from Skakel, a nephew of the late Robert F. Kennedy who in August was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for the 1975 beating death of Martha Moxley.

Skakel, 42, proclaims his innocence in the letter and talks about the anguish of being separated from his son, George, 3.

"I honestly believe he thinks he did not do it," Ueckerman, 16, told The Hartford Courant. "He feels he's not guilty and he's been falsely accused and he's there for no reason."

Ueckerman, a student at Newtown High School, wrote Skakel in hopes of fulfilling a journalism class assignment to interview someone and write a story. Her teacher, Nicole Rossi, mentioned that a student the year before had interviewed inmates at the Garner Correctional Institution, and noted that Skakel was the prison's most recent high-profile inmate.

Skakel, whose aunt, Ethel, was married to Robert Kenney, was convicted in June of beating Moxley to death with a golf club in Greenwich when they were 15-year-old neighbors.

Prison officials told Ueckerman that even if Skakel agreed to a face-to-face interview, it would take about four months to get on his visitor list. So she wrote a letter instead, inquiring about his son, his religion and life in prison, not about the crime.

"I didn't want to be controversial," Ueckerman said. "If he got mad, I wouldn't get a response."

Skakel's letter was "really confusing," Ueckerman said. "He's a very intelligent person in what he writes, but it was scattered. It seemed like he had so much on his mind he couldn't write it all down fast enough."

Ueckerman assured Skakel she would not release the letter in its entirety, but quoted from it for her story.

"I am devastated at the loss of physical contact and minimal phone contact with my dear sweet son Georgie," Skakel wrote. "I love my son Georgie more than life itself. He suffers daily from our absence. When he suffers, I suffer!"

Ueckerman received a second letter from Skakel on Friday.

"He mentions again that he does not talk to the press at all," she said. "But since I'm as young as I am, I have more integrity than people who've been in journalism longer."

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