Sources: More witnesses heard confession
By J.A. Johnson Jr. - Greenwich Time
Testimony that Michael Skakel confessed to the 1975 Martha Moxley murder has been dismissed by his defense as either lies or the faulty 23-year-old recollections of witnesses who once attended drug and alcohol rehab with Skakel.
But according to sources familiar with the case, there are other witnesses waiting in the wings who are well-acquainted with the defendant - at least one is a relative - who never attended rehab with Skakel and also claim to have heard Skakel admit his involvement in the 15-year-old Greenwich girl's brutal slaying.
Even if true, Skakel defense attorney Michael Sherman said, the new witnesses would not hurt his client's chances in front of a jury.
"I haven't been made aware" of those witnesses, Sherman said yesterday, adding that if such witnesses were to testify at trial that they heard Skakel confess to the murder, "That doesn't change a thing."
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, would not reveal who the witnesses were and would not characterize them other than to say the witnesses can offer trial testimony similar to evidence provided in an earlier court proceeding.
Although the sources said at least one of the potential witnesses is a relative, they would not specify how he or she is related to Skakel.
During a preliminary hearing in June, two witnesses testified that while in rehab, Skakel confided in them, saying he murdered his teenage neighbor the evening of Oct. 30, 1975.
Gregory Coleman testified that late one night at Elan School in Poland Spring, Maine, Skakel told him he "drove in (Moxley's) skull" with a golf club, and then bragged, "I'm going to get away with murder - I'm a Kennedy."
Skakel, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy and the late Robert F. Kennedy, attended Elan School from 1978 to 1980 for treatment of alcohol abuse.
Another former Elan School resident, John Higgins, testified that Skakel "related to me that he had been involved in a murder of someone."
Higgins testified that Skakel said he had blacked out and he "said that he didn't know whether he did it and couldn't remember. He eventually said that he in fact did it."
The men's testimony was made while Skakel's case was still in juvenile court.
Originally arraigned as a juvenile for a crime he allegedly committed at age 15, Skakel went through a reasonable cause hearing to determine whether the state had sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.
Juvenile court Judge Maureen Dennis cited the testimony of both Higgins and Coleman when ruling that the case merited a trial.
The judge's ruling came in spite of Sherman devoting much time trying to discredit both Higgins, whom he accused of coming forward for financial gain, and Coleman, whom Sherman grilled about an admitted memory loss problem due to years of drug abuse.
Late last month, Dennis ordered Skakel's case transferred to adult court, where he is scheduled to be rearraigned Feb. 21.
Unless Skakel waives his rights, a probable cause hearing similar to last summer's reasonable cause hearing in juvenile court, will have to be held within 60 days of the adult court arraignment.