"Skakel Siblings Appear in Court"

(Greenwich Time, Sept. 22, 1998)
        
By J.A. Johnson Jr.
Staff Writer

BRIDGEPORT - The Martha Moxley grand jury yesterday resumed after a recess of
more than a month, hearing the testimony of four members of the suspects'
family, as well as an attorney who worked for the Skakel family in the aftermath
of the Greenwich teenager's 1975 murder.
Appearing in Superior Court Judge George Thim's sealed courtroom were Julie
Skakel, John Skakel and Steven Skakel, a sister and two brothers of suspects
Michael and Thomas Skakel, as well as Desneiges Terrien, a cousin.
Also testifying was a man who a court official would identify only as "a Skakel
attorney who was involved early on" in the two-decades-old murder case.
The suspects' sister, brothers and cousin all refused comment either before or
after testifying yesterday.
Appearances by Skakel family members at the Fairfield County Courthouse was an
event long anticipated by those following the Moxley case over the past 23
years. State and local law enforcement officials over the years have criticized
the family for not cooperating with the investigation. Rushton Skakel Sr.,
father of the suspects and their siblings who testified yesterday, fought a
subpoena to appear before the grand jury earlier this month in Florida, where he
now resides.
"This is a day that many people thought would never come," said Timothy Dumas, a
Greenwich native who wrote a book about the Moxley case that was published
earlier this year. "The feeling was that one way or another, using their money
or power, the Skakels would find some way to avoid setting foot inside a
courthouse."
Dumas, former managing editor of Greenwich News and author of "Greentown: Murder
and Mystery in Greenwich, America's Wealthiest Community," continues to closely
follow the Moxley case and has often been present at the Bridgeport courthouse
when the grand jury is in session.
The witness appearing yesterday who Dumas said intrigued him the most was 30-
year-old Steven Skakel, as Dumas wrote in his book of an interview with a woman
who had a startling encounter with the youngest of the six Skakel brothers in
1986. Dumas wrote that a woman, whom he called Mary to protect her identity,
told of having met the then 23-year-old Steven at the Portofino restaurant in
Greenwich and then driving with him to a bar in Rye, N.Y.
"I said, 'You know, your family is so interesting. Remember that situation, did
your brother really kill that girl?' " Dumas quoted Mary as asking Steven
Skakel. "His face got very somber and sad. Then he looked at me and nodded
slowly. He didn't say a word."
Dumas said yesterday, "Steven was only 7 at the time (of the murder), but if my
source was correct, he knew exactly what happened."
Thomas and Michael Skakel, who at the time of the murder were 17 and 15 years
old, respectively, were with the 15-year-old Moxley prior to her murder the
evening of Oct. 30, 1975, and police identified the murder weapon as a golf club
belonging to a set of clubs owned by the boys' family.
Attorneys for both brothers have maintained their clients' innocence.
John Skakel, now 39, told police in 1975 that he left his house prior to the
murder, along with brothers Michael and Rushton Jr., to drive his cousin, James
Terrien, to his Cliffdale Road home. According to police reports, John Skakel
took a polygraph test on Dec. 9, 1975, the results of which indicated his
answers were truthful.
Julie Skakel, who was 18 in 1975, was considered a mother-figure for her younger
siblings in the absence of their mother, who died two years earlier.
According to Dumas, the 41-year-old woman's testimony would be of interest to
the grand jury "because being a matriarchal figure within the Skakel family,
Julie was really in a position to know what went on in the Skakel home the night
of the murder and afterwards."
John Skakel testified yesterday morning, and after the grand jury recessed for
lunch, he, Julie and Steven immediately made calls on their respective cellular
telephones upon leaving the courthouse. Afterward, Julie and Steven returned
without their brother for the afternoon grand jury session.
Desneiges Terrien, now 39, was interviewed by Greenwich detectives six days
after the murder. On Nov. 5, 1975, according to a police report, Terrien told
detectives she had gone to bed at about 10 the night of the murder and that
although she did not see her brother return home, she later heard him and the
Skakel brothers talking.
Dumas said he did not know what the woman could offer the Moxley probe, as she
had been half-asleep when her brother and cousins entered her house, and she was
unable to tell police which of the Skakel brothers were there.
Since beginning in July, the grand jury has heard testimony from at least 20
people.

Thanks to J.A. Johnson Jr. for the article.