Skakel testifies in Moxley probe
By J.A. Johnson Jr., Greenwich Time

BRIDGEPORT - Rushton Skakel Sr. yesterday spent over an hour answering a grand jury's questions about what he might know concerning his sons' possible involvement in the 1975 murder of Greenwich teenager Martha Moxley.

Skakel, 75, is claimed in court documents to have knowledge of possibly incriminating statements Michael Skakel had made while being treated for alcohol abuse.

Another son, Thomas Skakel, has also been identified as a suspect in the murder.

Neither Skakel nor any of the family members accompanying him would comment before or after the witness went inside the sealed grand jury room on the third floor of the state Superior Court in Bridgeport.

His attorney, Richard Lubin, said Skakel answered all the grand jury's questions, but would add nothing further.

"All I can say is he's been released from his subpoena, and this is over and done with as far as I'm concerned," Lubin said.

Asking the questions in the grand jury room were Deputy Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano and Executive Assistant State's Attorney Domenick Galluzzo, both of whom declined comment.

Skakel, brother of Ethel Kennedy, testified before Judge George Thim, who was appointed as a one-person grand jury in June 1998 in what is believed to be a last-ditch attempt to solve the 24-year-old murder.

Moxley, 15, lived across the street from the Skakels in Greenwich's private Belle Haven section at the time of the Oct. 30, 1975, murder. Police have said Michael and Thomas, then 15 and 17, respectively, were with the victim the night she was slain with a 6-iron from a set of golf clubs owned by the Skakel family.

The elder Skakel, who now lives in Hobe Sound, Fla., was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury on Oct. 23. His testimony was delayed nearly a year as Lubin fought to block the subpoena on the grounds his client suffered from a form of dementia that rendered him incompetent to provide testimony.

In an affidavit filed in Martin County, Fla., District Court during the subpoena fight, Connecticut prosecutors said the elder Skakel was a material witness because he "has been privy to, as well as the source of, information which could greatly assist in this investigation."

As an example, the affidavit cites Skakel's attendance at a meeting at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Maine while Michael Skakel was enrolled there from 1978 to 1980. "It has been reported that during said meeting certain admissions to his involvement in the murder were made by Michael," the affidavit states.

The affidavit further states that in the 1980s, Skakel "had discussed his concerns about members of his family's possible involvement with this murder" with a friend of his, Greenwich resident Mildred Ix.

The senior Skakel, brother of Ethel Kennedy, arrived at the Fairfield County Courthouse accompanied by his wife, Anna Mae Skakel, a niece, Georgeanne Dowdle, and one of his six sons, Steven Skakel.

Dowdle, Steven Skakel and Ix are among the estimated 50 witnesses to have given testimony in the Moxley case.

Skakel yesterday entered the sealed grand jury room with Lubin at 2:10 p.m., and when he emerged at 3:15 p.m. was greeted with hugs from his wife and niece.

"I'm glad it's over," he told them. "We made it through the night, right?"

The grand jury's term, which by state law has a maximum life of 18 months, is due to expire in mid-December. All that apparently remains before it can decide on whether to seek an arrest is the resolution of a dispute over whether certain testimony already provided to the grand jury can be considered as evidence. The testimony was given by former residents and staff members of the Elan School treatment center Michael Skakel attended for alcohol abuse.

The state Appellate Court ruled last month that Elan School owner Joseph Ricci did not have to testify because of the patient-therapist privilege. The Appellate Court remanded to Superior Court the question of whether others at Elan School could testify without violating similar privileges.

A hearing on the matter has been scheduled for Oct. 5 in state Superior Court in Bridgeport.