Tags: Victim's | Mother | Testifies | Skakel | Trial

Victim's Mother Testifies at Skakel Trial

Tuesday, 07 May 2002 12:00 AM

Testifying as the first prosecution witness at the murder trial of Kennedy kin Michael Skakel, Dorthy Moxley said that on that morning a girl came to her front door, looking hysterical.

"She said, 'I think I found Martha.' I said, 'Is she all right?' She said, 'No, I don't think so.'"

Mrs. Moxley said a friend who was with her at the time said, "'You stay here, and I'll go look.'"

When the woman returned moments later, according to Mrs. Moxley, she said: "'Well, yes. It's Martha. And we think she's dead."

So far in the trial Mrs. Moxley has appeared confident and smiling, giving a thumbs-up sign to reporters outside, but her smile vanished at that point in her testimony.

Skakel, 41, is on trial on a charge he murdered Martha Moxley with his mother's golf club when both were 15 and living in the same neighborhood in a fashionable section of Greenwich.

Since Skakel's arrest in January 2000, three witnesses have died, including one - Gregory Coleman - who earlier testified that Skakel once vowed he would get away with murder because he was a Kennedy.

In opening statements earlier Tuesday, prosecutors said witnesses would testify that Skakel admitted to killing Moxley 26 years ago. His defense attorney said evidence would not support a guilty verdict.

Skakel's face turned red when the murder charge against him was read.

Skakel is charged with murdering Moxley on Oct. 30, 1975, known as "mischief night," the night before Halloween.

Prosecutor Jonathan Benedict said this mischief night "became one family's everlasting nightmare."

Moxley's body, with her underpants pulled down, was found the following morning.

He said Martha was beaten with a golf club "so furiously that the golf club fell apart. She was subsequently stabbed with a portion of the golf club right through her neck from right to left."

The grip and the first two inches of the club, where the owner's name would have been, were missing, Benedict said. Police matched the club to a set belonging to Skakel's mother, he said.

He said the Skakel children and their cousins "were abruptly and mysteriously" taken away for the weekend by the Skakel family to hinder the police investigation.

Benedict said that not for several days "did anyone provide an explanation for what the defendant did and where he was for the rest of the night."

The prosecutor told the jury that Skakel talked about the crime in later years.

"Some people simply cannot keep a secret," he said. "That is how this case eventually unraveled for Michael Skakel.

"He'd been talking about this night at issue since at least the spring of 1978, sometimes out of apparent guilt or apparent panic," Benedict said.

He said that some of Skakel's statements that other witnesses will testify about "may seem to you to be innocent or incomplete when standing in isolation, but when put together with other evidence the state will present they will permit you to conclude that the defendant murdered Martha Moxley."

Defense attorney Michael Sherman, however, said the witnesses from Elan School for troubled youth in Maine, attended by Skakel, were unreliable.

He said they are suffering from the "I Love Lucy" syndrome, where Lucy always tried to get into husband Ricky's club act.

Sherman said the witnesses were coming out now because they wanted to get into the act.

"It's a heck of a show," he said "You've got best-selling authors. You've got TV satellite trucks. You've got the Kennedy connection."

He asked jurors to put a critical eye on the witnesses. "Do their stories make sense? Are they consistent? Do they add up?"

Sherman said not only was Skakel not the murderer, "he wasn't even in the neighborhood." He said Skakel was at his cousin's house in northern Greenwich at the time of the alleged murder.

Hundreds of media representatives gathered for the high-profile trial. Television and still cameras have been barred from the courtroom. More than 50 news organizations have been accredited to cover the trial, drawn to the case by Skakel's links to the Kennedy family. His aunt Ethel is the widow of U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy. She is among the Kennedys expected to attend at least part of the trial, along with her son, Robert Kennedy Jr.

Judge John Kavanewsky Jr. is presiding. The case is being heard by a jury of eight men and eight women, including four alternates.

The trial is expected to last about five weeks. Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Testifying as the first prosecution witness at the murder trial of Kennedy kin Michael Skakel, Dorthy Moxley said that on that morning a girl came to her front door, looking hysterical. She said, 'I think I found Martha.' I said, 'Is she all right?' She said, 'No, I don't...
Tuesday, 07 May 2002 12:00 AM
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