Following his father's lead, a brother of two suspects in the Martha Moxley murder case is refusing to testify before the grand jury that is probing the Greenwich girl's 1975 slaying. According to court sources, Rushton Skakel Jr. recently declared he would not travel from his home in Bogata, Colombia, to appear before the grand jury in Bridgeport that is investigating his younger brothers' possible involvement in the 15-year-old girl's murder. The refusal came as officials were readying efforts to enforce a subpoena that is being fought by the suspects' father, Rushton Skakel Sr., who now lives in Florida.
State Inspector Frank Garr yesterday confirmed sources' reports that Rushton Jr. was refusing to cooperate with the grand jury. "When I called him on Sept. 30, I got him to agree to come up" to testify, Garr said. "But when I called him back a few days later to firm up a date, he had a complete change of heart. When I asked him why, he said it was none of my business."
Garr is lead investigator on the Moxley case for State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict. Benedict is assisting Superior Court Judge George N. Thim, who was appointed a one-man investigative grand jury for the Moxley matter in June. Rushton Jr., now 42, is one of those who in 1975 provided an alibi for his brother Michael.
"It's interesting that there are people who were with Michael that night, and are now unwilling to come to his aid," Garr said. Thomas and Michael Skakel, who at the time of the murder were 17 and 15 years old, respectively, lived across the street from Moxley and were with her prior to her murder the evening of Oct. 30, 1975. 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. In the days following the murder, police reports state Rushton Jr. told detectives he last saw Moxley the night she was killed as he was leaving his driveway to drive home a cousin, James Terrien. Along for the ride were brothers Michael and John, according to police.
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. Moxley was believed by police to have been murdered at about 9:50 p.m., but the Skakel brothers told detectives they did not return home from Terrien's house until about 11 p.m. According to police reports, John Skakel took a polygraph test on Dec. 9, 1975, the results of which indicated his answers were truthful.
He, along with sister Julie and the youngest of the six Skakel brothers, Steven, testified before the grand jury on Sept. 21. Garr yesterday said the grand jury also would like to question Terrien about Michael Skakel's alibi, but attempts to locate the suspect's cousin have failed. Like his eldest son, Rushton Skakel Sr. last month refused to cooperate with the grand jury by refusing to comply with a subpoena. Rushton Sr., who lives in Hobe Sound, Fla., is brother of Ethel Kennedy. After the subpoena was upheld by a Florida judge, Rushton Sr.'s attorneys claimed their client was incompetent to testify due to unspecified health problems. A competency hearing was then scheduled, but Benedict canceled it for unexplained reasons.
A new competency hearing has been scheduled for next Friday in Martin County Circuit Court in Florida.