Witness Must Testify in Conn. Case
By KAREN TESTA, The Associated Press

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - The elderly brother-in-law of the late Robert F. Kennedy must testify before a grand jury investigating the 1975 murder of a teen-age girl in Greenwich, Conn., a Florida appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The 4th District Court of Appeal rejected arguments by Rushton Skakel's lawyer that the 74-year-old man is mentally unfit to travel or testify. His lawyer claims Skakel barks, refuses to bathe and rubs noses and bellies with strangers.

Prosecutors believe Skakel may have information about the death of 15-year-old Martha Moxley, who was bludgeoned on her family's estate with a golf club that Skakel admitted two decades ago came from a set in his home in Greenwich. Skakel, who is the brother of Robert Kennedy's widow, Ethel, now lives in Florida.

Skakel's sons, Michael and Thomas, have been identified as suspects in the slaying. Michael, who was 15 at the time, and Thomas, then 17, have denied any involvement.

The court did not mention Skakel's bizarre behavior. Instead, it noted Skakel had sat through a four-hour hearing in a lower court, apparently without undue hardship.

It also said his lawyer had the opportunity to put Skakel on the stand to demonstrate his lack of competency but did not.

That lower-court judge ruled Skakel should be forced to testify in Connecticut.

Skakel's attorney, Richard Lubin, did not immediately return a call.

An affidavit by an investigator suggests Skakel might have overheard one of his sons discussing the slaying.

Documents filed by prosecutors and investigators in Connecticut ``indicate that Skakel may have direct knowledge as to the instrumentality of the crime and the identity of the perpetrator,'' the appeals court wrote.

AP-NY-07-28-99 1327EDT

The Associated Press.