Lawyer says Thomas Skakel is cleared
By J.A. Johnson Jr. - Greenwich Time

A grand jury's inaction against Thomas Skakel - the brother of the man charged with the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley and who also had been a suspect in the murder - has effectively exonerated him of wrongdoing, Skakel's attorney said yesterday.

Thursday marked the deadline for the grand jury to issue any reports in addition to the one issued last month that resulted in the arrest of Michael Skakel for the murder.

"Since there is no report, I believe that my client is completely cleared as far as an investigation is concerned, and his innocence has been more firmly established," Thomas Skakel's attorney, Emanuel Margolis, said. "It means that the grand jury has essentially exculpated him from any criminal responsibility if indeed there had been any criminal responsibility."

The one-judge grand jury adjourned Dec. 10 following an 18-month investigation of the unsolved Greenwich teenager's murder. Its report, issued Jan. 12, concluded that enough probable cause existed for prosecutors "to prepare an application for an arrest warrant." Seven days later, Michael Skakel was arrested.

According to Margolis, if the grand jury headed by Superior Court Judge George Thim had concluded it had evidence identifying more than one person as responsible for Moxley's death, the report would have made mention of multiple arrest warrants.

"I can't think of any purpose that would be served to separate things out, to declare that there is probable cause against Michael and to hold off on Thomas until the last minute," Margolis said.

Any possibility that a separate report would portray a role for Thomas Skakel in the crime was removed with the passage of Thursday's deadline, Margolis said. By law, state grand juries must issue reports of their findings within 60 days of adjourning.

The prosecutor for the Moxley case, State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

For nearly the entire life of the Moxley murder investigation, Thomas Skakel and another man were the only publicly identified suspects. Police have said then-17-year-old Thomas Skakel was the last person seen with Moxley the night she was bludgeoned to death with a golf club owned by the Skakel family.

The other suspect was Kenneth Littleton, a private tutor who moved into the Skakel residence the night Moxley was slain. Littleton was eliminated as a suspect last year, when he was granted immunity from prosecution in return for the testimony he gave to the grand jury.

Michael Skakel, who also had been with the victim the night of the murder, was not publicly identified by officials as a third suspect until 1995.

It was also in 1995 that new information came to light that cast suspicion on both brothers. In a report prepared by a private investigations firm hired by attorneys representing both Skakels, Thomas and Michael were said to have admitted to lying to police about their actions the night of the murder. In their significantly revised stories, the Sutton Associates report states, both Skakels placed themselves either with the victim or near the crime scene at the time Moxley was believed to have been killed on Oct. 30, 1975.