Jury Deliberating in Skakel Trial
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NORWALK, Conn. (AP) _ Jurors in the trial of Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel asked to rehear testimony Wednesday from several prosecution witnesses, most of whom talked about Skakel’s alibi or his movements the night his teen-age neighbor was killed.
Among the witnesses they asked to rehear were Skakel’s only sister, Julie; her friend Andrea Shakespeare Renna; and renowned forensics expert Henry Lee.
Jurors began their second day of deliberations Wednesday.
Skakel, 41, is accused of beating Martha Moxley to death with a golf club in October 1975, when they were 15-year-old neighbors in a wealthy gated community in Greenwich. He is a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, the widow of former U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy.
If convicted, he faces a sentence of between 10 years and life in prison.
Skakel’s older brother Thomas, an early suspect in the murder, appeared at the courthouse Wednesday to support his brother. It was the first time he had appeared at the trial.
``We talked and we agreed this would be a perfectly appropriate time for him to come,″ said Thomas Skakel’s attorney, Emanuel Margolis. ``He’s here to support his brother and show the solidarity of the siblings in this terrible time of crisis.″
Thomas had been an early focus of the police investigation because he was the last person seen with Moxley, and the murder weapon was matched to a set owned by the Skakels’ mother.
Defense lawyer Michael Sherman argued that Michael Skakel was visiting a cousin in another part of Greenwich at the time the murder was most likely committed. Defense witnesses, most of them Skakel relatives, said Michael was in a car that left the Skakel home about 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 30, 1975.
Julie Skakel, called as a rebuttal witness by the prosecution on May 29, testified that she was preparing to drive a friend home around the same time and saw a figure running across her family’s property. She said that although she first thought it was Michael and called out his name, the figure did not respond and she doesn’t believe now it was him.
She was also questioned by both sides about whether the car had already left. She said she was unsure.
Renna, the friend Julie Skakel was driving home that night, testified May 9 that she was sure that Michael was not among the group that left for the cousin’s home. She was later questioned again by the defense, who said that in earlier statements to investigators she seemed less certain that Michael was not with that group.
Jurors also asked to rehear Andrew Pugh. He testified May 20 that Skakel told him in 1991 he had climbed a tree on the Moxley property the night of the murder.
Pugh said Skakel told him he threw sticks at Martha’s window, then masturbated in the tree.
The jury also asked to hear the May 16 testimony of John Higgins, who attended a residential substance abuse treatment center with Skakel in the late 1970s. Higgins said Skakel had confessed to killing Moxley during a tearful conversation at the school.
Lee did not testify about the alibi. He told jurors May 8 that there was no direct evidence linking Skakel to the murder, but said there was indirect evidence suggesting a link.
Outside the courthouse, Margolis refused to comment about allegations that Thomas had changed his description of his movements the night Moxley was killed.
Sherman did not accuse Thomas Skakel of being involved in the murder, but reminded jurors several times that both Thomas and a Skakel family live-in tutor, Kenneth Littleton, were early suspects.