The Martha Moxley Murder
The Last Update April 22, 2002 to June 7, 2002
Skakel Trial Update
On Wednesday, April 24 2002, CNN reported that the last two jurors had been selected for the long-awaited trial of Michael Skakel for the murder of Martha Moxley. The jury panel comprises 12 regular jurors and four alternates.
Skakel's lawyer, Micky Sherman, had previously filed six motions in an effort to introduce "exculpatory evidence" that was aimed at exonerating Skakel his client and implicating Ken Littleton, a former tutor of Skakel's.
Sherman cited: "on several occasions, Littleton had admitted to committing the crime charged to the defendant."
His transcripts included an alleged conversation between Littleton and his ex-wife, Mary during which Littleton's alleged "involvement" in the crime is discussed. Sherman also filed a motion indicating his plans to call Baker as a witness.
His defense will also include the testimony of former Greenwich detective Jack Solomon who agreed to testify for the defense based on his belief that Littleton, not Skakel was responsible for the death of Martha Moxley.
In addition to Solomon's testimony, Sherman also acquired the transcripts of wiretaps carried out during Littleton's investigation.
Sherman also indicated he would table the 1992 evidence of forensic scientist Henry Lee who had examined two pieces
of hair discovered at the crime scene which were "microscopically similar to Littleton's," despite the fact that subsequent forensic tests have failed to prove any connection with Littleton.
Sherman has also asked that the testimony of Gregory Coleman, a witness for the prosecution, be banned from the trial. Coleman, who died of a heroin overdose last year, had previously testified that he had met Michael Skakel during a stay in a drug rehabilitation clinic during which Skakel told him that he "drove (Moxley's) skull in" with a golf club.
In other motions filed by State attorney Jonathan Benedict, the court was asked to ban any mention of polygraphs from testimony as polygraph results are inadmissible in Connecticut courts.
On May 8, 2002, Court TV reported that opening arguments had begun in Michael Skakel's murder trial, with his attorney producing an April 28 copy of The Advocate newspaper and requesting the judge poll the jury to to determine if any member of the jury had read it.
The article Michael Sherman was referring to was introduced by a bold headline that read:"Headmaster: Skakel expelled for 'threatening' woman with ski pole." Sherman argued that the prominence of the story may have induced the jurors
to read it in contravention to the court's direction to "stay away" from media accounts of the case.
The article described an incident at the Vershire School in Vermont where Skakel was ejected from after allegedly threatening a teacher's wife with a ski pole during a confrontation in a dormitory.
At the time of the article's release, Skakel had "categorically denied" the incident stating that he left the school because "he was failing."
In response to the request, State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict objected calling the excessive media coverage leading up to the trial a "dog and pony show" that had resulted in news accounts that were favorable to the defense.
Sherman countered by insisting that the media coverage involved "evidence directly related to the Moxley case."
Judge Kavanewsky denied Sherman's request for the poll as no evidence had been presented to indicate that any juror had disregarded his instructions relating to media coverage.
On May 15, 2002, a Court TV report described how the defense had spent three days hearing testimony based on a 98-page transcript of a secretly taped conversation between Kenneth Littleton and his ex-wife Mary Baker.
The 1992 transcript, which was read aloud to the court over a three-hour period, included statements from Littleton emphatically denying he had murdered Martha Moxley.
"I know I didn't kill the girl," Littleton said at one point.
The statements, taped without his knowledge in a Boston hotel room, included Littleton describing how difficult it would have been to murder Moxley:
"Okay, here I am gonna wander out, meet some girl, you know, find a golf club, you know, butcher her head, make it like a, you know, (expletive) tomato that's been hit, you know, and I later found out, you know, stab her with with (sic) the shaft, bring the shaft in, there's gotta be blood all over the clothes, get rid of the clothes, somehow during the night, right?" Littleton said to Baker. "I've gotta be able to do this, all this (expletive), my first night in this house. You know this (sic) highly illogical."
Littleton, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1985, appeared "robotic" when he took the stand and wavered when Sherman suggested that he could have committed the crime during an alcohol-induced blackout.
The transcript also included Littleton telling Baker that he believed Michael Skakel was responsible for killing Moxley, but Judge John Kavanewsky had decided to edit the statement from the transcript as he believed the jury should not hear it.
In further evidence, Baker told the court that state investigators had asked her "to tell Littleton he had confessed to the crime during a 1984 blackout, in the hope of provoking an actual confession from him."
Sherman later questioned Baker on why she had agreed to cooperate with the state if she believed Littleton was innocent.
Baker responded that she thought Littleton "should be held accountable if he were somehow responsible."
"So you thought he might be guilty?" Sherman asked.
"No, I did not," Baker answered.
Following the reading of the transcript and Baker's evidence, State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict said: "If the assertion is Kenneth Littleton made an admission to this crime and that's where he made it, I can't find it."
Also on May 15, 2002, Court TV reported that Thomas Skakel, older brother of Michael and a prime suspect for many years, would not be called by the prosecution to testify against his brother.
Deputy Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano explained: "We don't need him. We've assessed what he would bring forward and it has either come in or will come in from other witnesses."
Skakel's defense attorney indicated that he may still call Thomas Skakel to the stand but was undecided.
According to previous testimony, Thomas and Michael Skakel were "hanging out" with Moxley and other friends at the Skakel home on the night of the murder. At 9.30pm. as the group began to disperse, Thomas Skakel and Moxley were left standing together in the driveway.
Helen Fitzpatrick, who was present at the time, had testified that the two were "just fooling around" and engaging in horseplay when Skakel pushed Moxley into the bushes.
In May, 1976, Greenwich police had sought an arrest warrant for Thomas Skakel as they believed there was enough evidence to arrest him for the murder. The state's attorney disagreed and Skakel was never charged.
Thomas Skakel's lawyer, Emanuel Margolis, has said that if his client had been called, he would have supported Michael Skakel's contention that he was at his cousin's house at the time Moxley was killed: "Tom has nothing to do with this murder, and the only purpose in calling Tom that I can think of would be to focus on the issue of the defendant's alibi," Margolis said.
On May 16, 2002, Court TV's coverage continued with a report that a close friend of the Skakel family, who had originally told a grand jury in 1998 that Michael Skakel had told his father he "could have murdered Martha," changed her story, recanting her original testimony.
Mildred Ix, a former neighbor of the Skakel and Moxley families, had previously told a grand jury that Rushton Skakel, Michael Skakel's father, had told her in 1981 that Michael was concerned he had too much to drink on the night of Martha Moxley's death and might have forgotten murdering her.
According to court documents when Ix testified in 1998 she told the court: "He said Michael had come up to him and he said, you know, 'I had a lot to drink that night. I would like to see — I would like to see if — if I could have had so much to drink that I would have forgotten something and I could have murdered Martha, and I would like to make sure at (sic) that night knowing something like that happened.' So he asked to go under sodium pentothal or whatever it was."
In her latest evidence, she denied ever having the conversation with Rushton Skakel but then said Rushton Skakel had told her that Michael wanted to take sodium pentothal but never said anything incriminating about his role in the murder. "I know Rush never, ever heard from Michael that he ever killed anyone," Ix told the court. "I assumed something that was really in my heart of hearts. I put in Rushton Skakel's mouth what I actually thought. I'm sorry."
Interviewed outside the court following the testimony, Dorthy and John Moxley, Martha's mother and brother, told reporters they felt betrayed by their friend. "She said to me after Martha died, 'I can't believe it would be Tommy, but I'd give you Michael in a minute,' " Dorthy Moxley said. "This was absolutely terrible. She seems to conveniently remember what she wants to."
John Moxley agreed, calling Ix's testimony "boldfaced lies."
The jury also heard from several other witnesses including Rushton Skakel Sr., two forensic experts, a lawyer from Rushton Skakel's company who traveled to the Skakel home after Moxley's body was found and a Greenwich barber who believes he heard Michael Skakel say in the late 1970s that he once killed someone.
Rushton Skakel testified that he did not remember having a conversation with Ix in which he incriminated Michael. Rushton Skakel, now 75, suffers from dementia and could not remember all seven of his children's names, nor the events of September 11.
The Greenwich barber, Matthew Tucciarone, told the court that Michael Skakel had sat in his barber chair less than six months after Moxley's death and talked about wanting to get a gun to kill someone.
According to Tucciarone's testimony a girl that was with Skakel said: "You can't do that," to which Skakel replied: "Why not? I've killed before."
Skakel's lawyer, Michael Sherman, attacked Tucciarone's evidence questioning him on why he did not come forward a month before the trial started. He also questioned how he was able to remember the Skakels and not other customers from the same period.
The lawyer, James McKenzie, told the court that he was sent to the Skakel home the day Martha Moxley's body was found to "control" the children, while Rushton Skakel Sr. was away on a hunting trip.
"Was there any particular person who appeared to be the most agitated?" Deputy Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano asked McKenzie.
"Yes. Michael Skakel. He was just a difficult child to control. He was running all over the house."
The two forensic experts testified about two hairs found on Moxley's body at the crime scene. Renowned expert Henry
Lee testified earlier that they bore a close resemblance to hairs belonging to Skakel family tutor Kenneth Littleton. Yesterday, a scientist who conducted a DNA analysis of the hairs said one of the hairs definitely did not belong to Littleton. The other hair did not provide an identifiable DNA sample.
The second scientist said her tests did not conclusively tie the hairs to Littleton.
On May 17, 2002, John Higgins, a former classmate of Michael Skakel's, testified that Michael Skakel had sobbed as he made a two-hour confession to the murder of Martha Moxley while at a behavioral school in Maine in 1978.
Higgins was one of three former classmates from the Elan School, in Poland Spring, Maine, to testify against Skakel, but the only one to say Skakel had actually confessed. Higgins said the conversation occurred while the two were sitting on a porch doing night duty at Elan.
"There was a party of some kind or another, and he related that he later was in his garage and he was going through some golf clubs, and he related that he was running through some woods, he had a golf club in his hands, he looked up, he saw pine trees. The next thing that he remembers is that he woke up in his house, and that's the story he related to me," Higgins said yesterday.
Christopher Morano, Deputy Chief State's Attorney, then asked Higgins: "And during this conversation, did you discuss in addition to those facts how he might have been involved in this crime?"
Higgins answered: "Yeah, through a progression of statements he said that he didn't know whether he did it, he said that he may have done it, he didn't know what happened, eventually he came to the point that he did do it, he must have done it; I did it."
During cross examnination, defense attorney Sherman focused on the fact that the Skakels did not own a garage but rather a shed where they did not keep cars..
Also during the cross-examination he admitted that he had "repeatedly lied" to State Inspector Frank Garr in the mid-1990s and gave him little information because he wanted to protect himself from involvement in the case. He had agreed to testify only after talking to Dorthy Moxley.
The jury also heard from Charles Seigan and Larry Zicarelli, a former Skakel family driver.
Seigan painted a harrowing picture of the reform school that included physical and verbal beatings as well as "primal scream" sessions. Students at the school repeatedly murmured about Skakel's involvement in a Greenwich murder after program director Joseph Ricci "blurted out" at a general meeting that Skakel could have killed someone, Seigan said.
After that incident, the topic came up two to three other times at smaller group meetings, Seigan said. When asked about it, Skakel allegedly told the group that he was drunk, stumbling and in a blackout that night.
"He would cry and shake his head, and he said he didn't know if he did it," Seigan said. "Other times he would get annoyed."
Seigan said Skakel never admitted or denied killing Moxley.
Zicarelli, the limousine driver, testified that in 1977, Skakel cried on a car trip to a doctor's office in New York City.
"When we got into New York, he said to me he was very sorry, but he had done something very bad and he had to either kill himself or get out of the country," Zicarelli said.
Skakel then jumped out of the moving car, and Zicarelli went to Rushton Skakel Sr.'s Manhattan office. Rushton Skakel Sr. told Zicarelli to have some lunch and then to look for Michael at the doctor's office, the former driver said.
Instead, Zicarelli went directly to the doctor's office, where he found Skakel on the sidewalk and invited him to have lunch. Skakel ordered only a double scotch on the rocks, Zicarelli said.
On the trip back to Greenwich, Zicarelli said, the car stopped in traffic on the Triborough Bridge and Skakel again jumped out of the car and ran to the side of the bridge. Zicarelli said he twice had to pull Skakel off the bridge and into the car.
Zicarelli said he asked Skakel what was wrong after he had quieted down.
"He said if I knew what he had done, I would never talk to him again," Zicarelli said.
On the same day of testimony Judge Kavanewsky ruled that prosecutors could present written testimony from former Elan student Gregory Coleman, who died of a drug overdose last year.
The following day, May 18, 2002, the jury heard transcripts of the probable cause hearing from former Elan classmate Gregory Coleman, who said Skakel confessed to the murder and bragged that he would get away with it, "because he's a Kennedy."
Coleman, whose prior testimony was read through role-playing by the lawyers, testified in the probable cause hearing last year that Skakel said, "I am going to get away with murder because I'm a Kennedy."
Coleman also said Skakel told him he had made advances on a girl and the girl spurned him.
"He said he drove her skull in with a golf club," Coleman said. "He indicated he had hit her so hard that the golf club had broken in half."
Elizabeth Arnold, a former classmate also testified that Skakel had almost cried as he explained to a small group of students during a therapy session that he was upset his brother "stole his girlfriend."
"He said they didn't really have sex but they were fooling around, he looked like he was on the verge of tears. He was very pained."
Deputy Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano asked Arnold what, if anything, Skakel told the small group about the murder of that same girl.
"He didn't know what happened that night," Arnold said. "He was very drunk and had some sort of a blackout. He didn't know if he had done it or if his brother had done it."
On cross-examination by Michael Sherman, Arnold acknowledged she remembered more about the group session after reading a book about the Moxley case by former Los Angeles Police Detective Mark Fuhrman. That was why she did not testify about the incident to the grand jury that investigated the case in 1998, she said.
Also on May 18, Judge Kavanewsky approved a defense request to recall Andrea Shakespeare Renna, an earlier state witness who had diluted Skakel's alibi that he was out of the neighborhood at the time authorities believe the murder occurred. The defense will argue that Renna said during earlier testimony that she was not sure of that fact.
He also denied the prosecution permission to call a former Greenwich detective who executed a search warrant in 1997
at Elan and could only recover three small folders which contained no information regarding Skakel. Prosecutors had intended to argue, using prior witness testimony, that most students had files that were several inches thick which indivated a cover-up and the "mysterious disappearance" of Skakel's full file. Kavanewsky refused the request on the grounds that the issue was "too speculative."
On May 21, 2002, according to testimony, Michael Skakel told two friends that he masturbated in a tree while peeping in Martha Moxley's bedroom window on the night she was murdered.
Meredith, 34, testified that he had a conversation with Skakel during the summer of 1987 at the family's home in the Belle Haven section of Greenwich.
He told the court he had met Skakel in 1985 while working on the re-election campaign of U.S. Republican Joseph Kennedy.
Meredith said his father was friendly with the Kennedy family and worked with Greenwich resident Frank Gifford, whose daughter, Victoria, was married to Michael Kennedy.
He had joined Kennedy's campaign shortly after a nine-month stint at the Elan School. He and Skakel had discussed their experiences at the school and agreed it should be shut down, Meredith said. "We felt it was an immoral place. . . Both of us felt the place was a concentration camp and it was destroying kids, very vulnerable children."
Meredith said he and Skakel talked about filing a class-action suit on behalf of former Elan students. By 1987, they were working so closely together on the lawsuit that Meredith left Boston to spend the summer at Skakel's home, he said. During that time, Meredith asked Skakel about the Moxley murder.
Skakel said he was innocent, Meredith recalled. Skakel told him that on the night of the murder, he climbed a tree outside Moxley's home and peeped in her bedroom window, Meredith said.
Skakel told him he saw Moxley in her room and masturbated in the tree outside her window, Meredith said. Skakel added that from the tree, he saw his brother, Tommy, walking from their home to the Moxley property, Meredith said. "He said once Tommy was out of sight, he climbed down the tree and went back to his house."
Andrew Pugh, another of Skakel's childhood friends, offered corroboration of other witnesses.
Pugh told the court that Skakel "had a crush" on Moxley. "He (Michael) liked her very much and said he would like to
have a relationship with her."
Pugh, who described himself as Skakel's "best friend," said Skakel was very agitated when Moxley's body was found under a tree in her yard. After the murder, the atmosphere in the Skakel home changed and he and Skakel "drifted apart," Pugh said.
In 1991, after seeing each other at a Greenwich church, Skakel telephoned Pugh. Skakel wanted Pugh to talk to investigators from Sutton Associates who were trying to "clear his name," Pugh said.
Skakel offered his account of the peeping episode to Sutton investigators, and the release of the agency's secret report to the media helped focus attention on him as a suspect.
Pugh told Skakel he had reservations about renewing their friendship because of questions about his involvement in Moxley's murder, he said.
Skakel then explained what happened that night.
"He said . . . 'But a strange thing happened, I was up in the tree that night masturbating,'" Pugh said.
The following day, Pugh told reporters that Skakel had "mouthed obscenities" at him while he was on the stand. "I gotta get up there and deal with this very unpleasant situation, and I have to take that kind of verbal abuse from the defendant? I think that's outrageous. It's immature, it's childish and it's a sign of his arrogance."
Pugh also said Skakel had mouthed similar obscenities during his testimony in a previous court appearance. "That time, I wrote it off. This time I almost turned to the judge and said, 'Excuse me, your honor, but is it normal procedure that the defendant would be mouthing obscenities at me in the middle of my testimony?' " Pugh said. "When I came off the stand, I mentioned it to the prosecutors. They didn't see it. I wonder if the jury did."
Pugh said he believes Skakel was trying to intimidate him.
"I think that was his intention, but it certainly didn't change my testimony," Pugh said. "There's nothing to change. I have no ax to grind here."
Pugh's testimony Monday showed that Skakel gave two different accounts of his wherebaouts on the night of Moxley's murder. In 1991, he told Pugh that he climbed a tree on the Moxley property and masturbated in it on the night of Moxley's murder.
Pugh said he assumed the tree in question was one about 40 yards from the house, where Moxley's body was found. The childhood friends often referred to it as "The Tree," Pugh said.
But Skakel told Michael Meredith that on the night of Martha's murder, he had climbed a tree outside her window, masturbated and seen his older brother Thomas "crossing the yard toward Martha's," Michael Meredith testified.
Pugh said he believed the tree Michael was referring to was not outside Martha's window.
Skakel has maintained that his climbing the tree — whichever tree he referred to — is a coincidence not pertinent to Moxley's murder.
The Prosecution Rests
On May 22, 2002, Court TV reported that the prosecution had rested its murder case against Michael Skakel after playing a tape of the Kennedy cousin describing how he was drunk, high and "horny" on the night Martha Moxley was murdered.
Senior Deputy State's Attorney Christopher Morano introduced the audio tape into evidence after writer Richard Hoffman testified that in 1997, he began working with Skakel on a book.
During a long weekend at the Skakel family home in Windham, N.Y., Hoffman had Skakel speak into a tape recorder about his experiences. The tapes were to be used as "raw material" for a book about Skakel's life, Hoffman said.
During the 25-minute segment played for the jury, Skakel begins by explaining that the night before Halloween, or Mischief Night, was "better than Christmas" for the Skakel kids.
"I mean, every night, we'd be out egging cars, or being mischievous, and, it was like letting off steam. . . . Mischief Night to us was like . . . New Year's Eve to an alcoholic," Skakel said.
That night, the family went with their tutor, Kenneth Littleton, to the Belle Haven Club, where Skakel said he was drinking "Planters punches" and rum and tonics.
After returning home, Skakel recalled that Moxley and several of her friends visited before the pair went to smoke a cigarette in his father's Lincoln, which the children called the "lust mobile." Skakel said he earlier told Littleton that
Moxley was "hot."
While in the car, Skakel encouraged Moxley to come with him to his cousin's home in backcountry Greenwich, but she declined, blaming her curfew. Skakel recalled: "I was like, OK, well then, . . . let's go trick or treating tomorrow night, and we'll wreck the place.' And she said, 'OK, great.'" He then went to his cousin's home and left Moxley and her friends behind with his brother, Tommy, he said.
Skakel next launched into an elaborate description of the home of his cousin, Jimmy Terrien, their drinking and smoking pot there, and being driven back to Belle Haven by his drunken, unlicensed siblings.
The lights were out when he returned home, and he got something to eat and went to bed, he said. "I know a part of me just wanted to go to sleep, and another part of me . . . got horny," Skakel said.
Despite his fear of the dark, he decided to go out again to an unidentified woman's home, he said. "I ran to that lady's house, and you know, I was like spying in her window, and hoping to see her naked," he said.
Since he was drunk and therefore "couldn't get it up," Skakel got a better idea. "I said '. . . Martha likes me. I'll go, I'll go get a kiss from Martha,' " he said. "I'll be bold tonight."
Once at the Moxley home, Skakel said he climbed one of the "huge cedar trees" next to the front door, and called her name and threw rocks and sticks at what he thought was Moxley's window.
He later learned he was at the wrong window, he said. "I don't know, I guess I'm a little out of my mind, because I was drunk and high, I pulled my pants down, I masturbated for 30 seconds in the tree and I went 'This is crazy. If they catch me, they're going to think I'm nuts'."
Skakel said he had a "moment of clarity," climbed down the tree, and started to return home, crossing the oval island in the Moxley's circular driveway.
"It's really dark, and when I started walking through (the oval) something in me said 'Don't go in the dark over there,' " Skakel said.
Pieces of the 6-iron that was used to kill Moxley were discovered the next day in the oval. Blood also was discovered on the driveway in the area, experts testified earlier.
Moxley's body was discovered the next day under the low-hanging boughs of a large, nearby pine tree.
Sensing a presence in the dark area, Skakel said he ran into the street, and standing under the street light, yelled obscenities and threw rocks into the darkness.
"I ran home and I remember thinking, 'Oh my God, I hope to God nobody saw me (masturbating)," he said.
A feeling of "panic" came over him later that night, and he later worried about being accused of Moxley's murder.
"I remember thinking, 'Oh my God, if I tell anybody that I was out that night, they're gonna say I did it," he said.
Skakel also expressed fear about his reputation if people found out he was a peeping Tom.
"I'd looked at all my friends' mothers, in their window(s), so I'm going, 'Oh great, everybody's going to think I'm a pervert . . . ," he said. "I think about it now in retrospect, I was just looking for a mom."
Earlier in the day, part-time model and South Boston, Mass., resident Gerrane Ridge testified that Skakel attended a party at her home back in 1997, and she overheard him remark about the murder.
"I don't know the whole statement he said, but as I walked in the room, I recall him saying in jest, 'Ask me why I killed my neighbor?,'" followed by laughter, Ridge said.
Ridge claimed she never heard Skakel say anything more about the case. State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict tried to impeach her testimony on that point, playing her a taped conversation in which she relayed a host of other details she said she overheard Skakel say that night.
Ridge claimed she was lying during that conversation with her friend, a fashion photographer.
"I did make up stuff to try to appear to be knowledgeable," Ridge said on cross-examination.
On May 23, 2002, The Greenwich Times reported that on the first day of the defense case, Michael Sherman attempted to "patch up" his client's alibi, calling Skakel's older brother and cousin to testify that the defendant was not in the Belle Haven section of Greenwich for nearly two hours on the night Martha Moxley was killed.
Rushton Skakel, Jr., and cousin James Dowdle, both testified that Michael Skakel had accompanied them on a car trip to Dowdle's home in backcountry Greenwich at about 9:30 on the night of the murder.
Dowdle, who once went by the surname Terrien, testified that after returning from dinner with the Skakels at the Belle Haven Club, he, Rushton Skakel Jr., John Skakel and Michael Skakel piled into the family's Lincoln at about 9:30 p.m.
They drove to Dowdle's home, an estate called Sursum Corda several miles from Belle Haven, and watched an episode of the television show "Monty Python's Flying Circus," he said. The show began at about 10 p.m., lasted half an hour, and the Skakel boys left a short time after the show ended, Dowdle said.
During cross-examination by State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict, however, Dowdle said other parts of that evening were less clear to him. He could not recall specifics about who was at dinner, who was drinking, how much they were drinking, or anything about the car before they got in it. "It happened so long ago, I just can't remember those kind of details," Dowdle said.
Benedict went on to highlight several inconsistencies between Dowdle's testimony and that of other witnesses. Dowdle said he believed Michael Skakel was part of the group of boys as they walked from the house to the Lincoln in the driveway.
Several other witnesses put Michael Skakel in the Lincoln with Martha before the older boys came out of the house and commandeered the car for the drive north.
Family tutor Kenneth Littleton has testified that after the murder, he drove Michael and Tommy Skakel and Dowdle to the family's second home in Windham, N.Y. "I don't believe I went up to that ski house," Dowdle said.
Dowdle said he had no recollection of Rushton Skakel Jr. being so drunk that night that he could not drive home. Michael Skakel said during a taped interview with his ghostwriter, Richard Hoffman, that Rushton Skakel Jr. was too "hammered" to drive home that night and brother John was forced to take over.
Despite these inconsistencies, Dowdle never wavered from his basic testimony that Skakel accompanied them on the trip.
Rushton Skakel Jr. gave a similar account of the trip, but was unable to recall other incidents important to the case.
He explained that he was 19 and a student at Dartmouth College at the time of the murder. He had only stopped in Greenwich for one night on his way to a homecoming game at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he said.
He had seen a Monty Python movie while at Dartmouth, he said, and was excited about seeing the television episode, he said. "It was the funniest thing I'd ever seen," he said.
The group drove to Dowdle's house, watched the show, and returned home at about 11:15 p.m., after which he did not see Michael again that night, he said.
During cross-examination by Benedict, Rushton Skakel Jr. said he had no recollection of dinner, drinking, other details of that evening or any "commotion" in the neighborhood after Moxley's body was found.
While Benedict seemed to accept Skakel's lack of recollections on several issues, he seemed less able to believe the Dartmouth graduate could not recall being interviewed by police on several occasions after the murder.
At one point winking at his brother as he testified, Rushton Skakel Jr. told Benedict he did not recall returning from Hanover, N.H., to Greenwich several days after the murder to be interviewed by police. Nor did he recall another occasion two weeks after the murder when the entire Skakel family went to the Greenwich Police Department to give statements, he said.
Similarly, he could not recall telling police in 1976 that Michael was "going nuts and being obnoxious" the day after the murder, he said.
Outside the courthouse, the victim's brother said he thought the witnesses' lack of recollections was convenient.
"What they specifically recall is their part of the alibi and nothing else," John Moxley said. "It's bad acting. Over the years, these guys are forgetting their lines."
Another Skakel brother, David, testified that he heard the Ix family's dog, Zock, barking "incessantly" around 10 p.m.
"It was distressed and it was prolonged barking," said David Skakel. That testimony bolsters Helen Ix Fitzpatrick's claim that Zock was barking for an unusually long period of time in the direction of the Moxley house at about 10 p.m. that night.
Sherman had focused on testimony about the barking dog to try to establish 10 p.m. as the likely time of the murder.
On May 29, 2002, The Greenwich Times reported that Skakel's defense brought their testimony to a close without Skakel taking the stand in his own defense.
On the last day of presenting their case, the defense called four witnesses. Edwin Jones, who worked at a Greenwich bank; John Skakel, Michael's older brother; former Detective James Lunney and Dr. Joseph Jachimczyk, a former Texas medical examiner who aided the Greenwich Police Department in its efforts to pinpoint the time of Moxley's death.
Lunney, who had already testified for the prosecution, addressed changes in Skakel's alibi. Skakel did not admit to police in 1975 that he left the house again after returning from his cousin's home around 11:15 p.m. on Oct. 30, Lunney said.
In 1975, Lunny asked Skakel if he went to sleep right away or if he read or watched TV, according to police reports.
"No. I went to sleep right away," Skakel said in 1975.
The jury had already heard a tape of Skakel in which he admitted that he left the house again, climbed a tree on the Moxley property and masturbated.
According to police reports, Skakel also pointed police in 1975 toward a neighborhood visitor whom he suspected was capable of killing Moxley. "Like, a lot of times when he drives by he'll just floor his car and yell at us and give us the finger," Skakel told Lunney in 1975, referring to an unnamed person. "He's got the worst temper." He also told police about another area resident who "could have done it, but he was at college."
Jachimczyk, a former county medical examiner in Texas and a retired forensic pathologist, said he estimated the time of death to be about 10 p.m., "give or take an hour on either end."
He estimated the time of death based on the level of rigor mortis on Moxley's body, the contents of her stomach at the time of her death and two circumstantial details — her curfew, believed to be about 10 p.m., and reports of dogs barking wildly in the area at that hour, he said.
John Skakel of Portland, Oregon, defended a 1975 statement he made to police, in which he said Michael was one of his family members who went to their cousin's home in the backcountry on the night Moxley was killed, but under cross-examination yesterday, John Skakel also admitted he could no longer recall who took that trip to the Terrien home. "I'd love nothing more than to have a clearer memory," he said.
John Skakel also said he did not remember the details of his interview with police. His brother Rushton Jr. and his cousin James Dowdle, formerly James Terrien, also have testified that they could not remember their interviews with police.
The defense also called Jones, who worked at Greenwich Federal Savings bank and knew Larry Zicarelli, the former Skakel family driver and a bank customer.
Jones said Zicarelli, who often drove Skakel around, confided in him with knowledge of the case: "He told me that Michael confessed to the murder of Martha," Jones said.
But Zicarelli, during his own testimony, did not say Skakel actually confessed to the murder of Moxley: "He said to me he was very sorry, but he had done something very bad and he had to either kill himself or get out of the country," Zicarelli said during his May 16 testimony.
Sherman pointed out to the court that Jones told State Inspector Frank Garr in 1993 that Zicarelli said Skakel "all but confessed."
A Sister's Story
On May 30, 2002, The Greenwich Times reported that Julie Skakel, Michael's sister was called as a rebuttal witness for the state in an attempt by prosecutors to raise the possibility that he never went with his brothers and cousin to watch television at his cousin's backcountry home.
In 1975, Julie Skakel told police that she thought a figure that ran past her at about 9:30 p.m. could have been Michael Skakel, but it was dark and she was not sure: "I thought it was Michael, and we were kidding around," Julie Skakel told Detective James Lunney in November 1975. "I said, 'Michael come back here,' and no one answered and they just kept going."
During evidence she said she did not believe the figure was her brother.
Skakel, who was 18 at the time of the murder, testified that she left the house at about 9:30 p.m. to take her friend, Andrea Shakespeare, home. When she and Shakespeare got to the car parked in the Skakel driveway, Julie Skakel said she did not have her keys and asked Shakespeare to run inside and retrieve them.
She told the court she did not remember whether her brothers and cousin already had left in her father's Lincoln to go to her cousin's home. But at a grand jury proceeding in 1998, she testified that she believed hers was the only car in the driveway.
Based on the testimony, prosecutors hinted that the figure Julie Skakel saw outdoors may have been Michael Skakel and he could have met Moxley after she left Thomas Skakel. "You see this figure that you yell, 'Michael, come back' to. That is very shortly before you see Tom and Martha by the side door," State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict asked her.
"I would say so," Julie Skakel responded.
Julie Skakel also spoke about another figure she saw running on her family's property on Mischief Night when she returned from driving Shakespeare home about 10 p.m.
"It looked like it was holding something," she said, describing the figure as a person too big to be her then-skinny 15-year-old brother Michael. "Maybe a bundle."
"Not something long and skinny like this?" said Benedict, holding up a golf club.
"No," Julie Skakel answered.
Skakel's lawyer, Michael Sherman, said dozens of children ran around the neighborhood on Mischief Night and the figures could have been anyone.
In new evidence, Julie Skakel also told the court that she noticed at about 10:30 p.m. that Littleton had changed his clothes. She added, though, that Littleton did not appear excited or distraught.
On November 1, the day after Moxley's body was found, Littleton took several of the Skakel boys to the family home in Windham, N.Y. Prosecutors have maintained that the Skakel boys were "whisked away" for the weekend after news about the murder began to brew.
Julie Skakel testified the boys went there almost every weekend.
Prosecutors also called Jennifer Pease, another of Michael Skakel's former classmates from the Elan School, who supported earlier witnesses who said Michael Skakel had confessed to killing Moxley while at the school in the late 1970s.
In her testimony Pease said student Gregory Coleman told her Skakel confessed to him. "He said that he had beaten some girl's head in with a golf club," Pease said.
Sherman then asked Pease why she did not come forward as a witness until last week, when she first called the State's Attorney's Office. "The information was already out there," Pease responded. "It was common knowledge. Kids believed he was there (at Elan) because he had murdered somebody."
When Sherman questioned Pease about her posts on a Web site in which she spoke disparagingly about Alice Dunn, another witness in the case, Pease answered: "I was ticked off that she misrepresented herself, she acted as though she found it abhorrent. But she always acted as though she enjoyed it."
Prosecutors also admitted into evidence a 1991 story in The Advocate and Greenwich Times written by Leonard Levitt, which first made public the details of the Moxley investigation from police reports.
Senior Assistant State's Attorney Susann Gill said she entered the article to rebut testimony from former Inspector John Solomon, a defense witness, who for years sought Littleton as Moxley's killer. Solomon testified he believed Littleton only could know the brutal details of Moxley's murder if he had killed her himself. "This is being offered to show in 1991 it was published information, the part about stabbing through the neck was in the public domain."
Detective Lunney also returned to testify that the Greenwich Police Department never supplied Elan with information about the Moxley murder because Skakel was not a suspect in 1978 when he went to the school. Prosecutors suggested that the only way Elan staffers could have found out that Skakel was being investigated was through his family.
On June 4, 2002. The Greenwich Times reported that lawyers for both sides had delivered their closing arguments in the murder case against Michael Skakel.
During his argument for the prosecution, State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict said Skakel had "dug himself a hole" by talking agitatedly about the crime the day after it happened, actually placing himself at the crime scene later and confessing to at least a dozen people in the years since the murder. Benedict said Skakel's recollection was most truthful in what he said to several confession witnesses over the years. "What he recalls is what he said to Andrea Renna, Matt Tucciarone, Larry Zicarelli, Dorthy Rogers, Greg Coleman, John Higgins, Alice Dunn, even his own father, and what he said to them is that he murdered Martha Moxley beyond every reasonable doubt." Another problem with Skakel's alibi, Benedict said, is that he has inadvertently referred to three different trees during his discussions of the night.
The golf club was another focus of Benedict's argument, when he said the missing handle of the club would have significance only to a Skakel, since the label on the handle bore the name of Skakel's deceased mother.
"The significance of the golf club, again, is not what is there, but what isn't there," Benedict told the jury. "The murderer made sure to hide forever that part of the club that said where it came from."
In the tapes, played aloud again yesterday before the courtroom in Skakel's own voice, Skakel told of being under a street light, hearing sounds and throwing rocks at a dark area on the Moxley property.
"He has himself under a street light throwing rocks and yelling into that circle with the exact same motion it had to have been used to beat Martha to death," Benedict told the jury as he slammed a golf club on a table several times, mimicking the beating motions.
Benedict zeroed in on a portion of the tape in which Skakel says he went to bed with the worry of someone having seen him masturbating on the Moxley property that night, and woke up in a panic when Dorthy Moxley appeared at his door.
"Is that the Freudian slip of all ages?" Benedict asked the jury. "What could he be worried about going to bed with other than a piece of a golf club, a memento from his victim, and awakening to Dorthy Moxley, feeling panicked that someone saw him last night? How could the sight of Dorthy Moxley possibly produce a feeling of panic in an innocent person?"
In his summation, Michael Sherman argued that the state's case raised more questions than it answered, and that there is too much doubt to support a conviction. "He didn't do it. He doesn't know who did. He wasn't there when the crime was committed and he never confessed," Sherman said. "That's the whole case." Sherman also raised the point that blood-stained clothing has never been found.
Sherman also reminded the jury of past suspects in the case saying that Kenneth Littleton's hairs were microscopically similar to ones found on the sheet used to wrap Moxley's body at the crime scene. "I am not here to persuade you that Ken Littleton committed this crime," Sherman said. "The state sure spent a lot of time trying to convince you he didn't. I mean, we went three days without hearing anything about Michael Skakel in this case."
Sherman also argued that Littleton made incriminating statements in conversations with his ex-wife, Mary Baker. "Were Ken Littleton's confessions any less compelling, any less persuasive?" Sherman asked. "This is investigative musical chairs, and unfortunately for Michael Skakel, when the music stopped, he got caught in that chair over there," Sherman said, pointing to the defendant's seat. "But he wasn't the only one that they were investigating, obviously."
Sherman also accused several of the state's witnesses of suffering from "I Love Lucy syndrome," meaning that they came forward because they wanted to be part of the "act."
He suggested that Renna's testimony was compromised because she admitted that she never saw Skakel at the home after the Dowdle car had left, and could not explain how she believed he was still at home: "She tried to waffle it because she said she had the impression he was there," Sherman said, also adding that Renna's statements came out of her reading of Mark Fuhrman's book, Murder in Greenwich, which claims Skakel is the killer.
Sherman also suggested that his client's alleged confessions at the Elan School were "beaten out of him" in a boxing ring used by the school to force students to confront their problems. "Every time he said he didn't do it, he was put into the boxing ring," Sherman said.
Finally, the defense argued that there was no physical evidence or forensic evidence linking Skakel to the crime. He also pointed to the Greenwich Police Department's failed arrest warrant application for Thomas Skakel, which was turned down by the state's attorney's office in 1976. "They said 'no, it's not enough,' " Sherman said of the state's attorney's office. "Well now it's your turn. They are coming to you now with something. And it's your turn to say it's not enough."
On June 7, 2002, Court TV reported that after three days of deliberations the jury in the Martha Moxley murder case found Michael Skakel guilty of the crime. He now faces 25 years to life in prison. Under state law, Skakel's bond will be revoked and he will await his sentencing behind bars.