Latest juror has connection to Moxleys
By Eve Sullivan - Greenwich Time
NORWALK -- A Stamford woman with loose ties to the Moxley family was selected yesterday as the sixth juror in the murder trial of Michael Skakel.
The woman is a friend of the daughter of John Peters, who was fatally shot in the swimming pool of his Greenwich home in 1993.
Peters' widow, Katrina, and Dorthy Moxley, mother of murder victim Martha Moxley, have recently become friendly.
Dorthy Moxley said she doesn't personally know the juror and has only been friends with Katrina for about a year. Moxley said they bonded through their similar tragedies.
When State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict asked the juror whether she would be influenced by her friend's ties to the Moxley family, she answered, "If the trial ended and it didn't go the way they wanted, it might be a little awkward."
Still, the woman told defense attorney Jason Throne that she could weigh the evidence and come up with a fair verdict, which she would discuss with her friend afterward.
The woman said she has already discussed the case with her friend.
"Do we discuss it in detail? No. But has the trial been brought up? Yes," she said.
Michael Sherman, Skakel's main defense attorney, said he didn't want to dismiss the woman just for being a compassionate person.
"She is sympathetic to Dorthy Moxley," Sherman said. "Who isn't? Why would we ask someone to be inhumane?"
The juror, who has two sons, age 12 and 15, works for an executive search company in New York City. She told Throne that her mother is a recovering alcoholic.
The attorney asked if she would treat a person with a substance abuse problem the same as anyone else. She replied that if the person still has a substance abuse problem, she would not treat them equally.
During a preliminary hearing last spring, Gregory Coleman, a classmate of Skakel's at the Elan School in the late 1970s, said that while he and Skakel were residents of the substance abuse treatment facility, Skakel told him that he had killed Moxley with a golf club. Later, Coleman admitted on cross examination that he had been high on heroin during his grand jury testimony months earlier. Coleman died last year of a heroin overdose.
Stamford Attorney Wayne Keeney, who sat in the audience yesterday, said even though the new juror has ties to the Moxley family, she is a good choice for the defense.
Her sons are around the age that Skakel was at the time of the 1975 murder, which allows her to identify with him, Keeney said.
"The second thing is she's a human resource professional, so she's not necessarily going to be biased, because she's trained to deal with people's problems," he said.
Finally, Keeney said, the woman doesn't believe anyone who is under the influence of drugs, and Skakel's alleged admissions of guilt were made under the throes of an addiction to a witness who testified while under the influence of heroin.
Jury selection in the case started last week. In addition to the woman chosen yesterday, the attorneys have selected a corporate lawyer from Darien, a Darien police officer, an administrative assistant, a high school teacher and a marketing executive.
A total of 12 regular jurors and four alternatives must be selected.
Five other prospective jurors were questioned yesterday. They included an accountant for the Internal Revenue Service, who was rejected by the defense, and the chief financial officer for an Internet company, who was dismissed after he said he believes Skakel is lying about the murder.
"I'm not sure if he did it, but I think he had some kind of involvement," the man said.
Another man said he had sat on two other juries, including one that heard a civil suit brought by the parents of a boy beaten with a golf club.
Skakel, 41, is accused of bludgeoning Moxley to death with a golf club on Oct. 30, 1975. The two, who were 15 at the time, lived near each other in Belle Haven.
In the civil suit heard by the prospective juror, five years had passed from the time the crime occurred to when it was brought to trial.
"These children were different people," he said.
Sherman asked the man if he would have a problem convicting someone after 27 years.
"I have a problem that it wasn't prosecuted 27 years ago," he said. "That's a crime."
The man also said he designed the cover of a book about President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s. Skakel's aunt, Ethel Skakel Kennedy, is the widow of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
Jury selection will resume today at 10 a.m.