Older Skakel Still Suspect in Moxley Death.
by J.A. Johnson Jr., Greenwich Time
While the grand jury investigating the Martha Moxley, murder has been focusing its attention on Michael Skakel, the suspect's brother still remains under suspicion in connection with the Greenwich teenager's 1975 slaying.
As the last person to be seen with Moxley the evening she was killed - together with the fact the murder weapon came from his house and other reasons - Thomas Skakel was the suspect on whom authorities concentrated for much of the past two decades.
But since the grand jury was convened in June, Michael Skakel appears to have emerged as the prime suspect, asprosecutors set their sights on possibly incriminating statements he allegedly made while undergoing alcohol abuse rehabilitation a few years after the murder of his 15-year-old Greenwich neighbor. In addition to former fellow residents of a rehab center, including Michael's roommate, the grand jury has heard testimony from the suspect's boyhood best friend as, well as a brother and two cousins who had helped corroborate the alibi he gave police 23 years ago.
So why have prosecutors not called Thomas grandjury and offered him - as they did a third suspect in the case - immunity from prosecution in return for what he might know about the murder?
Except for Thomas, the only suspect identifiey by police until 1995 had been Kenneth Littleton, then a 23-year-old teacher at the private Brunswick School in Greenwich who was hired as a live-in tutor for the Skakel brothers and moved into their house the night of the murder. Littleton appeared at the Fairfield County Courthouse in Bridgeport Aug. 4, at which time he was given immunity before giving nearly two hours of testimony in the sealed grand jury room.
Some observers who have closely followed developments in the Moxley investigation believe it is only a matter of time before Michael's older brother will be offered such a deal, but only as the grand jury nears completion of its investigation. Others said no deal will be extended if prosecutors suspect Thomas played an active role in covering the crime. None say they think Thomas will be charged as the murderer.
State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict, who asked for the grand jury and is assisting with the probe, declined comment. Benedict's lead
investigator on the Moxley case, Inspector Frank Garr, would only confirm that both, Skakel brothers remain suspects. Thomas
Skakel's attorney, Emanuel Margolis, also declined comment. The Stamford criminal defense attorney would only confirm that client had not been subpoenaed, and that he had not been approached with an offer of immunity.
Retired Greenwich Police detective Stephen Carroll, who was the senior local investigator on the Moxley case before retiring in 1978, had suspected Tbomas of committing the murder until recent developments - especially the allegations of Michael Skakel's possibly incriminating statements - caused him to change his mind.
"We were zeroing in on Tommy at the time because he was the last to be seen with her," Carroll said last week. "I now believe the guilty person is Michael, but I also think that Tommy, if he didn't commit the murder, was definitely part and parcel of it. Michael may have gotten help from his brother in hiding the body, so that's why I think Tommy should definitely remain a suspect."
Carroll said crime scene analysis found that after Moxley was bludgeoned with a golf club and then stabbed with the club's broken handle, the girl lay bleeding for some time before being dragged beneath a tree on the side of her parents' Walsh Lane estate, where her body was found the next day.
The former detective speculated the grand jury might be trying to determine whether the killer had help moving the body, and whether that person should be charged as an accomplice.
Carroll said in addition to witnesses placing then-17-year-old Thomas with the victim before the murder and his connection to the murder weapon - a 6-iron from a set of clubs belonging to his family -he and other detectives focused on Thomas because they had obtained medical records and other information indicating Thomas was prone to violent outbursts. Carroll said Thomas remained the prime suspect even after passing a 1975 lie detector test because he and other detectives believed epilepsy medicine Thomas was taking skewed test results. The test indicated Thomas truthfully answered "no" when asked if he murdered Moxley, Carroll said, adding that the suspect was never asked whether he knew who committed the crime.
Carroll said he also had thought Thomas was the probable killer because the suspect omitted from his statement to detectives important details, such as the sexual advances he made toward Moxley the night of the murder. Thomas also lied in that statement, Carroll said, claiming to have left Moxley to do homework that detectives later determined had never been assigned.
Through recent open court hearings regarding subpoena enforcement, prosecutors revealed they are seeking testimony from witnesses to
whom Thomas allegedly gave an account of his actions the fatal evening of Oct. 30, 1975, that significantly differed from what he had told police. According to court documents, prosecutors allege Thomas in 1993 told private investigators hired by Skakel defense attorneys that on the night of the murder, he and Moxley had a sexual encounter behind the Skakel house that began at about 9:30 or 9:35 p.m. and lasted about 20 minutes. Police reports show Thomas originally stated he left Moxley at 9:30 p.m., and authorities established the time of Moxley's murder to be about 9:50 p.m.
Timothy Dumas, who grew up in Greenwich and was managing editor of Greenwich News before writing a book about the Moxley case, said there are three possible reasons Thomas officially remains a suspect: that he is the killer; that he was an accomplice to the crime; or prosecutors want to use the threat of arrest as leverage for getting information from him.
"I think the most likely' reason is they don't want to rule out the possibility Tommy was an accomplice," said Dumas, author of "Greentown: Murder and Mystery in Greenwich, America's Wealthiest Community."
Another who wrote about the murder case is former Los Angeles police detective Mark Fuhrman, who said he does not believe Thomas is being looked at as an active accomplice because the evidence shows Moxley's body was dragged, rather than carried, and that points toward only one person moving it.
"But you have to wonder how much Tommy knows," said Fuhrman, who names Michael Skakel as the probable murderer in "Murder in Greenwich: Who Killed Martha Moxley ?" "And, of course, Tommy changes his story 18 years later, and you have to wonder why," he added.
Fuhrman speculated that the only useful information Thomas can provide to the grand jury includes possible incriminating statements his brother made and any related discussions within the family.
"Tommy and Michael will be the last two to be subpoenaed," Fuhrman predicted. "This will be done after all the witnesses have made their statements and prosecutors can ask. them all the questions they already know the answers to."