Prosecutors make final push Skakel sister
takes stand on behalf of state
By Lindsey Faber - Greenwich Time
NORWALK -- Julie Skakel, Michael Skakel's older sister and a rebuttal witness for the state, once told police that at a key point on the night that Martha Moxley was killed, she saw a dark figure dart across her yard and believed it could have been her brother Michael.
Through her testimony yesterday in Michael's murder trial, prosecutors attempted to raise the possibility that he never went with his brothers and cousin to watch television at his cousin's backcountry home. Skakel has maintained that he was miles away at the time Moxley is believed to have been killed, about 10 p.m. on Oct. 30, 1975.
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, 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."
She insisted yesterday that she did not believe the figure was her brother.
Moxley's body was found on Halloween 1975 in her Belle Haven yard, beaten to death with a golf club that belonged to the Skakel family. Michael Skakel, 41, is on trial for the murder of the 15-year-old.
Julie Skakel 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.
Julie Skakel said yesterday that she did not remember if her father's Lincoln had already left to take her brothers and cousin to her cousin's home. But in 1998, at a grand jury proceeding, she testified that she believed hers was the only car in the driveway.
As in 1998, Julie Skakel said yesterday that as she was sitting in her car outside, waiting for Shakespeare to come out, she could see her brother Thomas saying good-bye to Martha.
A moment later, she said, Thomas, who was with the Skakel family tutor, Kenneth Littleton, answered the door for Shakespeare. Both were earlier suspects in the case.
Prosecutors hinted to the jury that the figure Julie saw running past could have been Michael and he could have met Moxley after she left Thomas.
"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," Julie Skakel 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?" Benedict followed, 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.
Julie Skakel also said for the first time yesterday 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 Nov. 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 in Belle Haven.
Julie Skakel testified it was not unusual for the boys to spend their weekends there. They went almost every weekend, she said.
Prosecutors also called another of Michael Skakel's former classmates from the Elan School, a behavioral treatment center in Maine. Jennifer Pease, 36, supported earlier witnesses who said Michael Skakel had confessed to killing Moxley while at the school in the late 1970s.
Pease, who lives in Portland, Maine, and works for the Department of Motor Vehicles there, 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.
Coleman, who died last year of a heroin overdose, testified in April 2001 at a pretrial hearing that he was assigned to oversee Skakel after Skakel ran away from Elan.
Coleman said Skakel told him: "I'm going to get away with murder because I'm a Kennedy."
Sherman asked Pease why she did not emerge 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."
Sherman questioned Pease about her posts on a Web site, in which she spoke disparagingly about another witness in the case, Alice Dunn.
"I was ticked off that she misrepresented herself," Pease said of the former Elan staffer's testimony that Elan was a horrible institution. "She acted as though she found it abhorrent. But she always acted as though she enjoyed it."
Prosecutors also admitted into evidence yesterday a 1991 Greenwich Time article 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 could only 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," Gill said of the article. "The part about stabbing through the neck was in the public domain."
Finally yesterday, Lunney returned again to testify that the Greenwich Police Department never supplied the Elan School with information about the Moxley murder, since Skakel was not a suspect in 1978 when he went to Elan. Prosecutors insinuated that the only way Elan staffers could have found out that Skakel was being investigated was through his own family.
Lawyers will meet outside the presence of the jury today to discuss their instructions to the jury. They will present their final arguments Monday, and the jury will begin deliberating soon thereafter.