Jury Selection to Begin in Kennedy Kin Trial
GREENWICH, Conn. - Facing the mother of the girl he allegedly killed more than 25 years ago, Michael Skakel told Dorthy Moxley: "You've got the wrong guy."
But with jury selection scheduled to begin tomorrow for Skakel, a nephew of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, Moxley said she believes otherwise.
"I think it's a miracle we've gotten this far," she said. "I feel very confident. I just think we have the right person."
Martha Moxley was beaten to death with a golf club Oct. 30, 1975, in Belle Haven, a gated shoreline community in Greenwich. It was, and is, a neighborhood of stately mansions, private schools and country clubs.
The Moxleys and Skakels were neighbors in that privileged place. Both Michael and Martha were 15 when she was killed. The murder weapon was traced to a set of golf clubs owned by Skakel's mother.
The case was unsolved for years but regained attention after several books were written about the case. Skakel, now 41, was arrested in January 2000 after a grand jury investigated the case.
Skakel approached Dorthy Moxley during his March 14, 2000, arraignment and insisted he was innocent. He was arraigned as a juvenile because of his age when the crime was committed. The case was later transferred to adult court, a move Skakel's lawyer opposed.
If convicted, Skakel could face life in prison. Selecting a jury is expected to take a month or more, while the rest of the trial may take up to two months.
The trial will take the courtroom back to an era when the nation was recovering from Vietnam and Watergate. Patricia Hearst's kidnapping seemed to epitomize the wildness of the times.
But Greenwich was a place apart, especially Belle Haven, a peninsula that juts into Long Island Sound.
"Greenwich felt protected," said Timothy Dumas, who was coming of age in Greenwich at the time and later wrote a book on the Moxley murder. "Then Martha was murdered and that changed my whole notion of feeling insulated from the confusion that was happening."
Many Greenwich residents - including police - had a hard time believing one of their own could murder Moxley.
"Somehow it pierced their world in a way they didn't want pierced," Martha Moxley's friend Christy Kalan said. "It was messy, and they didn't want it to mess up their world."
Authorities say both Michael and his brother Thomas, then 17, were romantically interested in Martha Moxley. But Kalan said her friend didn't seem to have much interest in either brother.
Michael Skakel originally told police he saw Martha at his house early in the evening, and left about 9:30 p.m. to go to his cousin's house.
He changed his story when interviewed by private investigators hired by his family in the early 1990s to clear the brothers. He told them he went outside after returning home. He said he climbed a tree near the Moxley home, yelled at a window he thought was Martha's bedroom, then masturbated in the tree.
Skakel later had years of personal troubles, including substance-abuse problems that landed him at the Elan School, a private treatment center in Poland Spring, Maine, in the late 1970s.
While there, authorities say, Skakel admitted committing the killing - a claim he vehemently denies.
Skakel's attorneys will likely try to create doubt in the minds of jurors by pointing to earlier suspects.