Keegan testifies he tried to arrest Thomas Skakel
By Lindsay Faber - Greenwich Time
NORWALK -- Former Greenwich Police Chief Thomas Keegan, who oversaw the initial investigation of Martha Moxley's death, testified yesterday that he sought an arrest warrant for Michael Skakel's older brother in 1976.
During the second day of testimony in Skakel's trial, Keegan, now a South Carolina state representative, said at that time he believed there was probable cause to arrest Thomas Skakel on a charge of murder in connection with for the 1975 slaying of Moxley, a 15-year-old who was beaten to death with a golf club and found in her Belle Haven yard.
Michael Skakel, 41, is on trial now for Moxley's death. The 15-year-olds were neighbors at the time of her murder. If convicted, Skakel, a divorced father of one, could spend the rest of his life in prison.
During cross-examination, Skakel's attorney, Michael Sherman, asked Keegan, a witness for the prosecution, if he had pursued an arrest warrant for Thomas Skakel. When Keegan said he had, it was the first time that information became public.
Investigators initially pursued Thomas Skakel because they thought he was the last person to be seen with Moxley on the night of her death. However, Thomas Skakel passed a polygraph exam, and then state's attorney Donald Browne said there was not enough evidence to sign the application for Thomas' arrest, Keegan said.
By introducing Thomas Skakel as a suspect, Sherman was attempting to show the jury that investigators pursued several suspects and ran an inconsistent investigation.
After Keegan's admission, Sherman demanded prosecutors produce the application. They admitted it had been lost.
Retired police Officer Thomas Sorensen, state Chief Medical Examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver and renowned forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee also testified yesterday.
The jury saw graphic photos of Moxley's beaten body projected on a screen as the scientists explained her injuries.
The photos depicted Moxley's battered head, her blood-stained hair and purple bruises on her face. One shocking photo revealed a stab wound running from one side of her neck through to the other, with some pieces of hair poking out the other side.
The courtroom remained quiet while the photos were displayed.
Members of the jury winced.
Kara Moxley, the wife of Martha Moxley's brother John, wiped away tears. John and his mother, Dorthy Moxley, did not attend the day's testimony because of the photographs' graphic nature.
After the photo display, several of Skakel's siblings asked him if he was all right.
During Keegan's testimony, State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict attempted to limit discussion of Thomas Skakel, by objecting to Sherman's questions. Prosecutors had already filed a motion seeking to limit information about third parties, he said.
State Superior Court Judge John Kavanewsky Jr. allowed the testimony.
Thomas Skakel's lawyer, Emanuel Margolis, who has attended almost every day of the trial and jury selection, said he was not aware police had sought a warrant for his client's arrest.
"I was not aware of the fact that they applied for the warrant," Margolis said. "But they were engaging in very powerful efforts to pin my client to the wall."
Margolis said he would inform Thomas Skakel of the arrest warrant application.
Also during Keegan's testimony, prosecutors passed around Top-Sider shoes Moxley wore on the night of her death. On one of the shoes, the name "Tom" was scrawled on the side of the white sole.
On Tuesday, excerpts read from Moxley's diary indicated that she and Thomas were friends and that he had made several sexual advances toward her. The shoes were presented as evidence from the crime scene.
Sherman said he intends to raise more questions about a different third party -- Kenneth Littleton, the tutor who moved into the Skakel home on the night of Moxley's disappearance.
Yesterday, Sherman pressed Keegan about his investigation of Littleton, and Keegan said Littleton's statements had been inconsistent.
Littleton, who now lives in Boston, failed three polygraph exams and has been in and out of a mental hospital since the killing. The summer after Moxley's death, he was involved in several burglaries in Nantucket, Mass.
Keegan said that although Littleton was a suspect, he never sought a warrant for Littleton's arrest.
Littleton is expected to testify today. Lawyers may choose to hear from him outside of the jury's presence, since the defense is claiming he once confessed to the crime.
Kavanewsky will decide what information from Littleton is admissible either before the jury hears from him or after his direct examination.
Keegan, as well as other witnesses, discussed physical evidence in the case yesterday. The former police officer told the jury there were no identifiable fingerprints on the evidence collected and samples of Moxley's fingernails yielded no DNA other than her own.
"Did you find any evidence linking this murder to another party?" Sherman asked Keegan.
"We did not," he answered.
Keegan said he believes the killer removed the missing golf club handle. Yesterday, another police officer said he saw it imbedded in Moxley's neck. Investigators have said the name of Skakel's mother was printed on the leatherette.
"That it was a Skakel golf club -- that's what the killer didn't want anyone to know," Keegan said yesterday.
Carver, the state's chief medical examiner, testified about autopsy records prepared by Elliot Gross, the medical examiner in 1975.
Moxley's body had no indication of a sexual assault or evidence of alcohol use at the time of her death, Carver said.
Confirming that Moxley had died of blunt traumatic head injuries, he said such wounds, which included the stab through the neck and punctures through her scalp, "would required very substantial muscle force."
Carver's testimony also addressed the time of Moxley's death, a big issue in the case.
Sherman is trying to show Skakel was out of the neighborhood between 9:30 and 10 p.m., when Belle Haven residents heard a commotion and barking dogs, and asked Carver whether his information was consistent with a time of death within that half-hour period.
Carver said yes, but a moment later confirmed that the information also would be consistent with a later time of death, such as midnight or 1 a.m.
Later in the day, the jury heard from forensics expert Lee, who said there was no forensic evidence, such as blood or DNA, linking Skakel to the killing.
"I don't have direct, but I do have indirect evidence," he said during Sherman's cross-examination. The point was not pursued.
Benedict said he believes the presence of Lee, who was involved in the O.J. Simpson and William Kennedy Smith cases, is significant because Michael and Thomas Skakel changed their alibis in the early 1990s after the family heard Lee was getting involved in the case.
Lee confirmed yesterday that two hairs found on the sheet used to wrap Moxley's body showed a microscopic resemblance to Littleton's.
Lawyers expect to interview several witnesses today, including former Detective Jim Lunney and Moxley's friends Helen Ix, Jackie Wetenhall and Andrea Shakespeare. They could begin questioning Littleton this afternoon.