Third Skakel juror selected
By Lindsay Faber - Greenwich Time

NORWALK -- One more juror was chosen yesterday for the 12-member panel that will decide whether to convict Michael Skakel of murdering his teenage neighbor Martha Moxley in 1975.

A high school Spanish teacher from Darien joined the jury yesterday, joining a male investment officer and female marketing executive who were selected Tuesday.

The woman chosen yesterday, who is active in her church and a contributor to several health-related organizations, said she knows very little about the case and has not seen it on television. In fact, she said the one show she watches regularly is "Everybody Loves Ray-

mond" because her parents live next door to her in a similar situation to the one on the sitcom.

The woman came from the remaining jurors from Tuesday's pool.

Lawyers also ushered in a new pool of 20 prospective jurors, seven of whom were held over for a second round of questioning. Only two of those seven underwent the questioning yesterday and both were rejected. The rest will be questioned today.

The two rejected candidates were a female U.S. Army Reservist from Stamford and a Lebanese immigrant from Stamford who said he was interested in learning about the American criminal justice system.

Defense attorney Michael Sherman exercised one of his 18 peremptory challenges to excuse the woman, and State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict used one of his to excuse the man.

Meanwhile, the victim's mother, Dorthy Moxley, appeared in court for the first time yesterday and smiled at the cameras as she gave the thumbs-up signal. Wearing a scales of justice pin on her lapel, she carried a notebook in which she jotted down notes about every prospective juror questioned and even sketched some of their faces.

"I used to be uncomfortable in these situations," Moxley said, referring to sitting in the same room with Skakel, 41, who is on trial for the murder of her 15-year-old daughter. "But none of this is really bothering me at all. I've gone over this again and again."

Moxley came with a friend. She said her son, John Moxley, would join her once testimony begins May 7.

Skakel was supported by his brother Steven Skakel, his sister, Julie Skakel, and a family friend.

Lawyers for both sides spent nearly an hour questioning a woman who grew up in Byram and attended the same high school as Skakel. That woman also indirectly knew several potential witnesses or relatives of potential witnesses. Her mother is a retired probation officer whom Sherman said he knew well.

Sherman ultimately accepted the woman, but Benedict moved to excuse her because of a fear that her memory of the case would become much clearer, and more detailed, once testimony began in the courtroom. Superior Court Judge John Kavanewsky Jr. granted the state's motion.

"I'm disappointed, but no good can come out of whining in the courtroom," Sherman said afterward. "She would have been great, but that's the way it works, and you just move on."

Skakel appeared exasperated after the long questioning session and uttered an "Oh, my God" after the woman was excused.

Benedict would not comment on any aspect of the case.

The state and the defense teams also firmed up their lists of potential witnesses yesterday, and both included on their lists a baby sitter who allegedly had a sexual relationship with Skakel's cousin Michael Kennedy. That relationship was disclosed at length in a book proposal written by Skakel. Kennedy died in a skiing accident in 1997.

It was not clear yesterday why the woman might be called.

The state also might call Skakel's father, Rushton Skakel Sr., and Skakel's brother, Thomas Skakel, along with several former Greenwich police officers and Belle Haven residents.

The defense might call three of Skakel's siblings and Jack Solomon, the lead state investigator from 1991 to 1995. Solomon is expected to testify about his investigation of one-time suspect Kenneth Littleton, a Skakel family tutor. Littleton has been named as a potential witness by both sides.

The defense might also call Skakel's cousin Courtney Kennedy, the only member of the Kennedy family who is expected to testify. Skakel's aunt Ethel is the widow of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

With three jurors chosen only two days into the selection process, Sherman acknowledged both he and Benedict believe the process is going faster than anticipated.

Benedict and Sherman asked the same questions of jurors they asked yesterday, including whether they could withhold sympathy for Dorthy Moxley and whether they harbored reservations about circumstantial evidence, the time elapsed since the crime and the Kennedy family.

Benedict focused on the time of the murder, which the state is only required to prove occurred between 9:30 p.m. Oct. 30, 1975, and 5:30 a.m. Oct. 31, 1975.

Sherman is likely to make an issue of the time of the murder.

"I think the time of the murder is very important," he said.

Copyright 2002, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.

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