Skakel jury selection reaches halfway mark
By Eve Sullivan - Greenwich Time
NORWALK -- Two jurors were selected yesterday for the murder trial of Michael Skakel, bringing the total to eight, half of the number needed.
Skakel has been charged with the 1975 murder of his Greenwich neighbor, Martha Moxley. Both were 15 at the time.
Twelve jurors and four alternates are needed for trial.
The new jurors have two things in common: both are white men who live in Stamford and both believe O.J. Simpson was guilty.
One is a native of Tennessee and the regional director of operations for a large restaurant chain based in New York City. The other owns a local excavation business and has an interest in forensic evidence.
During a break in jury selection yesterday, Skakel told The Associated Press that he was not guilty.
"God knows I'm innocent," Skakel said outside the courtroom in state Superior Court in Norwalk. "Last time I checked, (not) bearing false witness was a commandment, not a suggestion."
Earlier in the day, defense attorney Michael Sherman of Stamford questioned the restaurant chain manager about what he has read in the newspapers regarding the Skakel case. The man recalled reading about former Los Angeles Police Department officer Mark Fuhrman's involvement.
Fuhrman wrote the book "Murder in Greenwich," which named Skakel as Moxley's killer. It was among several media accounts of the stalled investigation that led a grand jury in January 2000 to charge Skakel with the murder.
Sherman asked the man about his reaction to Fuhrman's book.
"I thought that was absurd," said the man, who has not read the book. "What business did he have coming in out of left field and solving a crime?"
Sherman then asked the man what he thought about the Simpson trial. Fuhrman, a former LAPD detective, investigated the 1994 murder of Simpson's wife and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
The man said he thought Simpson was guilty and that the police and prosecution did a poor job.
"It appears they botched it," he said.
Sherman asked the man whether he should be on the Skakel jury.
"If you don't choose me, I hope you would choose someone like me," he said.
Sherman asked the second man whether he wanted to be on the jury.
"Not really," he said.
Sherman asked why.
"Because you're judging someone's fate," the excavation business owner said.
Sherman asked whether he agreed with the O.J. Simpson verdict.
"No," he said. "Not after seeing the forensic science."
Seven other prospective jurors were questioned yesterday by Sherman and the prosecution team, led by State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict.
Those candidates included an unemployed mother of two, a full-time homemaker and a registered psychiatric nurse who works at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan.
The nurse was accepted by Sherman but rejected by prosecutors, who did not give a reason for their decision.
Another man was excused from serving after saying he believed the Skakels' wealth and Kennedy cousins helped Skakel avoid prosecution 27 years ago. Skakel's aunt, Ethel, is the widow of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
Other candidates excused from serving on the jury include a former neighbor of Sherman and a former associate of Emmanuel Margolis, who represents Skakel's father, Rushton Sr., and his brother, Thomas. Margolis also has been listed as a witness for the prosecution.
Moxley was found beaten to death with a golf club on the lawn of her parents' home on the morning of Oct. 31, 1975. Moxley had been out the previous night with friends, including Michael and Thomas Skakel.