Jury to enter fourth day of deliberations Friday
By John Springer - Court TV
NORWALK, Conn. — Jurors deliberating the fate of Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel were sent home Thursday night without reaching a decision about whether prosecutors proved that Skakel killed 15-year-old Martha Moxley with a golf club in 1975.
Perhaps broadcasting how badly it is split, the panel reheard instructions from Judge John Kavanewsky shortly before 5 p.m. and decided not to discuss what they heard until Friday. So far, the jury of six women and six men has deliberated for 18 hours over three days.
Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse as a light rain fell, defense lawyer Mickey Sherman said he believes the jury is close to a verdict.
"I don't think the jury's stuck. I think they are going about this very methodically, very carefully, deliberately," Sherman said. "I don't think you can ask for more than that. I think they are close because they aren't asking for [more] readbacks. They're down to the nitty gritty."
Sherman said Skakel is hoping for the best but prepared for the worst. "He knows it can go either way," Sherman said. "Michael has said to me that he knows it is in God's hands."
Prosecutors did not address reporters but appeared pleased that jurors asked to rehear the second half of Jonathan Benedict's closing argument. Benedict was low-key when he began but came alive during the second half of his summation, arguing that Skakel all along has spun tales to try to distance himself from evidence he killed Martha in a jealous rage.
Kavanewsky, however, told jurors that arguments are not evidence. He denied their request.
On the third day of deliberations, jurors sent out notes fast and furiously. They cancelled requests for readbacks of some testimony, made new requests, and even asked to hear the most powerful portion of the prosecutor's closing argument. Here are some of the highlights:
- 4:38 p.m. Kavanewsky reread portions of the instructions he gave to the jury Monday. Kavanewsky gave definitions of reasonable doubt, intentional murder and other aspects of the law. He also explained that jurors may draw inferences from circumstantial evidence, which he also explained. He spent time discussing motive as well, noting that the prosecution does not have to prove that Skakel had a motive for killing Martha Moxley in order to prove he killed her.
The judge also reread portions of the instructions pertaining to alibi and cause of death.
- 3:22 p.m. Kavanewsky declined the jury's request to rehear a portion of the prosecutor's closing, but agreed to instruct the panel that closing arguments are not evidence but can be considered if helpful in remembering evidence.
- 2:12 p.m. The testimony of Andrew Pugh, Michael Skakel's best friend growing up in Greenwich, is being read to the jury by the court reporter. Pugh testified that when Skakel tried to rekindle their relationship in the early 1990s, Skakel denied killing Martha but admitted that he had masturbated that night in a tree on the Moxley property that Pugh and Skakel had often climbed as children. Pugh identified a photo of the tree under which Martha's body was discovered as the one he and Skakel used to climb.
Pugh also said that Skakel liked Martha but she didn't seem as interested in him, although she and the defendant shared a kiss once in an RV owned by the Skakels.
- 12:45 p.m. The court clerk read a very limited portion of the end of Dr. Henry Lee's testimony from the first week of the trial. Lee, the well-known forensic scientist from Connecticut, reconstructed the crime scene from documents and photographs. The jury, however, asked that only the portion of Lee's testimony dealing with physical evidence against Michael Skakel be read. Lee testified that there is no "direct evidence" against Skakel but there is indirect evidence which he was not permitted to testify about.
The defense argued that the jury should not be permitted to rehear the comment about indirect evidence but the judge permitted it anyway.
- 11:17 a.m. Jurors listened to a portion of the transcripts of witness Helen Ix Fitzpatrick's testimony about the scene at the Skakel home at about 9:30 p.m. on the night of the murder, Oct. 30, 1975. Skakel says he got into his father's car at about that time to drive his cousin home across town. If jurors have concluded already that Martha Moxley was killed between 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Skakel's whereabouts will likely be critical during deliberations. Fitzpatrick testified that she, Martha, Michael Skakel, Tommy Skakel and another boy were listening to music in the car. When Rushton Skakel Jr., cousin Jim Terrien and John Skakel showed up to take the car, Fitzpatrick said, everyone got out and the traveling party got in.
She testified that she does not remember now if Michael Skakel got back into the car but believes that "more probably than not" he did. Ix said that when she went home at 9:30 p.m. the car had left and Martha and Tommy Skakel were flirting and horsing around to the point where Fitzpatrick felt a little uncomfortable.