Skakel, portrayed as incompetent
Wife, priest, doctors cite brain
damage, psychological disorder
By J.A. Johnson Jr., Greenwich Time, Staff Writer

STUART, Fla. - The father of two suspects in the murder of Greenwich teenager Martha Moxley suffers from severe psychological and behavioral problems that would make him an unreliable witness, according to testimony yesterday by Rushton Skakel Sr.'s wife, priest and doctors in Martin County Circuit Court. The testimony portrayed the 74-year-old father of suspects Michael and Thomas Skakel as @ man suffering from brain damage and a schizophrenia like disorder, who "belly bumps" and rubs noses with strangers and cannot remember the names of family members and friends, much less events concerning a two-decade-old murder.

Skakel, the brother of Ethel Kennedy, had been subpoenaed to appear Oct. 23 before a grand-jury in Bridgeport that is investigating the 1975 slaying, but Martin County Judge John Fennelly has given Skakel's attorneys and a Florida prosecutor until Oct. 30 to file briefs before ruling on whether Skakel must travel to Connecticut to testify. Skakel, wearing a blue sports jacket, blue polo shirt, blue sneakers and multicolored checked pants, refused to comment when met by a throng of reporters and television crews as he arrived at the court. He was accompanied by his second wife, Anna Mae Skakel, niece Georgeanne Terrien and Stamford attorney Emanuel Margolis, who has represented Thomas Skakel since 1976. Rushton Skakel, (photo by Deborah Silver, Stuart News), was not called to testify on his incompetency claim; he sat at the defense table as several witnesses described him as suffering from psychological problems that would cause him undue hardship if forced to testify in Bridgeport.

The murder victim's mother and brother, Dorthy and John Moxley of New Jersey, attended the hearing in Florida. Afterward, Dorthy Moxley said that despite what the witnesses said, "I think Rushton Skakel knows the truth about what happened to my daughter, and now he's just behaving the way he's behaved forever." Authorities and Moxley's survivors have for years accused the Skakel family of hindering the murder investigation by refusing to cooperate. During yesterday's hearing, the

Moxleys and Skakel family members sat on opposite sides of the courtroom, neither side acknowledging the other. The first witness to testify was Dr. Alvin Rosen, a North Palm Beach psychiatrist who has been treating Skakel since 1991, and who recounted such inappropriate behavior as dropping his pants to moon" a female neighbor and eating from strangers' plates in restaurants. Rosen testified that Skakel frequently approaches strange men and "bumped bellies" them, greets women he does not know by rubbing noses with them and that he has a tendency to "growl like an animal" and become highly agitated without provocation. "He can appear at times to be quite normal, but then, due to the brain dam age, he will act in a strange fashion for no Apparent reason," Rosen said, adding that he diagnosed Skakel as suffering from degenerative dementia and a "shizotypal personality disorder" that may have been caused by a bout with alcoholism after Skakel's first wife died in 1973., Dr. J. Mark Stafford, a neurologist from Jupiter, Fla., who evaluated Skakel in July, said Skakel's behavioral problems "were indicative of frontal temporal lobe dementia," a degeneration of the brain that is similar to Alzheimer's disease. Consistent with that diagnosis, Stafford testified, is such paranoid behavior as Skakel sleeping with a loaded gun and hunting knife, double-locking his bedroom door and making repeated "security checks" of his house. He said Skakel could not remember the names of his grandchildren and kept lists of common words he did not understand. Rosen said Skakel had undergone surgery for prostate cancer that rendered him impotent and incontinent, conditions that have fueled his mental deterioration. He testified Skakel has withdrawn into a tightly regimented lifestyle, which would be disrupted and his condition could worsen if he were forced to travel to Connecticut and testify before a grand-jury Under questioning by Martin County Assistant State's Attorney Robert Belanger, however, Stafford said any adverse effects would be temporary. "It could aggravate it, but it would not be permanent," the neurologist said. "It would be temporary, for the time he is exposed to this change in environment." When the hearing recessed for lunch, Skakel told family members, "We get an 'A: for effort." He then approached the bailiff inside the courtroom and delivered a "belly bump," which the uniformed Martin County deputy sheriff accepted with good humor. But before the recess, Skakel's attorney Richard Lubin of West Palm Beach asked Rosen whether his patient would be a competent grand jury witness, to which Rosen replied, "I don't think his answers would be reliable." When the same question was asked of Stafford, the neurologist replied, "I would not rely on somebody with this type of disorder." Skakel, former chairman of the board of ,Great Lakes Carbon, the family business, sold his Belle Haven home in 1993 and moved to Hobe Sound, Fla. The Skakel family was neighbors of Martha Moxley when she was slain the evening of Oct. 30, 1975. Thomas and Michael Skakel, who were then 17 and 15 years, old, respectively, had been with the 15year-old victim the evening of the crime. Police said the weapon used to bludgeon and stab Moxley was a 6-iron from a set of golf clubs owned by the Skakel family.

An affidavit filed yesterday with the Martin County court by Connecticut Inspector Frank Garr, who is assisting with the grand-jury, stated that "it has been established that Rushton Skakel Sr. has been privy to, as well as the source, of information which would greatly assist in this investigation." As an example, Garr states in the affidavit, the senior Skakel was at a meeting at the Elan School for troubled adolescents in Maine, which Michael Skakel attended from 1978 to 1980. "It has been reported that during said meeting certain admissions to his involvement in the murder were made by Michael," Garr's affidavit states. In addition, the affidavit states, during the 1980s Skakel "had discussed his concerns about members of his family's possible involvement with this murder" in conversations with family friend Mildred ix,,"Who has reported that she has been in social contact with Rushton Skakel Sr. within the last year or so, and that his mental and physical condition seemed fine." Ix testified before the grand-jury in August. But Skakel was described as "mad" by the Rev. Aidan Hynes, pastor of St. Christopher's Church in Hobe Sound, Skakel's church, and a family friend who testified at the competency hearing.

"I met Rush in 1993, and I quickly decided, in my parlance that Rush was mad," Hynes said. He's a man out of the normal mode, in a bizarre, crazy sort of way." Hynes said even though he had not held a "meaningful conversation" with Skakel since he's known him, he enjoys his parishioner's company and dines at the Skakel residence at least five nights a w@. Additional accounts of Skakel's alleged bizarre behavior Were offered by his maid of the past 10 years, Emma Evans, who told of how her boss said to her, " 'You kiss this,' and then he patted his backside" because she had forgotten to buy orange juice, but that Skakel did not recall the incident when Evans said she chastised him the following day. The last to testify was Skakel,'s wife of 16 years, Anna Mae Skakel, a former nurse who once ran a small geriatrics hospital in upstate New York. When describing her husband's deteriorating mental condition, Mrs. Skakel said, "I have tried to engage Rush in conversation about our serious financial problem that he cannot keep going to the bank and taking out large sums of money, and giving it away, but the next day he would go to the bank and take out more money." When asked by Lubin what her husband did with the money she replied, "He's given it to known drug addicts and prostitutes"' who congregate near St. Christopher's Church. "He gave $700 to one lady who said she needed it for surgery." When the day long hearing ended, Skakel approached his attorney and said, "Thank you. Thank you. You were fabulous. I really appreciate it."