Final juror selected for Skakel trail
Kevin McCallum - Stamford Advocate
NORWALK -- A nurse whose daughter is a Westchester County, N.Y., prosecutor was selected yesterday as the 12th juror for the Michael Skakel murder trial, rounding out a jury both sides praised as intelligent and fair-minded.
"We wanted 12 intelligent people, and, boy, it sure looks like we got what we wanted," State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict said after court adjourned.
Four alternate jurors need to be chosen, but the end of regular jury selection seemed to come as a relief to many, including Dorthy Moxley, mother of murder victim Martha Moxley.
"I think they're all good, don't you?" Moxley said. "I'm really very pleased. Now we'll just pray they do a good job."
Skakel, 41, has been charged with the 1975 murder of his Greeenwich neighbor. Both were 15 at the time.
The latest juror, who recently moved to Greenwich, told attorneys her daughter's job will not affect her ability to give Skakel a fair trial.
She said most of the time they spend together revolves around her three grandchildren, and her daughter never discusses her work as a prosecutor.
"I just don't really know what kind of cases she does," the juror said.
The woman also said she is too busy with her work as a nurse to read or watch media accounts of the case.
Under questioning by Skakel's lead attorney, Michael Sherman of Stamford, at state Superior Court in Norwalk, the woman said she worked for years as an emergency room nurse, but now teaches doctors about new dialysis treatments at St. Vincent Hospital and Medical Center in New York City.
"Some people think that people who get arrested are probably guilty. Do you believe that?" Sherman said.
"Absolutely not," she replied.
Sherman then asked whether she thought she would make a good juror for the case.
"That's an excellent question," she said. "I think I'd make a perfect juror for this case."
After court, Sherman said he found the woman to be "extraordinarily honest and forthright" and was not concerned about her daughter's job.
"I was a prosecutor. Prosecutors are people, too," Sherman said. "She said she'd be an ideal juror, and both of us believed her."
Sherman has not been afraid to make unorthodox jury selections.
One of the most surprising choices was the selection of a Darien police officer who had been assaulted by one of Sherman's clients. Sherman said he found the officer to be fair and compassionate and disputed the notion that police officers inherently favor the prosecution.
Another unusual selection involved a woman who is a friend of the daughter of John Peters, who was shot to death in the swimming pool of his Greenwich home in 1993. Peters' widow has befriended Dorthy Moxley. Moxley said she and the juror's friend's mother had bonded through their similar tragedies but she had never met the juror.
The jury is made up of six men and six women, all of whom are white.
The jury includes a marketing executive, high school Spanish teacher, administrative assistant, corporate attorney, restaurant company executive, man who owns an excavating company, New Canaan woman who knows Skakel's stepsister, hotel executive and a Wilton man who owns a driver-training company.
The search for the alternate jurors continues today.
Both sides used some of their 18 challenges yesterday, leaving Sherman with four and the prosecution with five.
Sherman said he was not surprised the process is ahead of schedule, considering the way he and Benedict operate.
"Both of us have a similar no-nonsense style, and we're not caught up with being in love with the sounds of our own voices," Sherman said.