Witness pokes hole in Skakel's alibi
By Lindsay Faber - Greenwich Time
NORWALK -- Michael Skakel's alibi took a significant hit yesterday when a childhood friend testified that Skakel never got into the car going to his cousin's house the night Martha Moxley was killed in 1975.
On the same day of testimony, Kenneth Littleton, the Skakel family tutor at the time of Moxley's death, told a packed courtroom that he was ordered to take some of the Skakel boys to the family's Windham, N.Y., home immediately after Moxley was found dead in her family's yard.
Moxley and Skakel, both 15 at the time of her death, lived next door to each other in Belle Haven.
Skakel, now 41 and on trial for Moxley's murder, has always said he got into the family car at about 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 30 with his brothers Rushton Jr. and John and his cousin James Terrien and drove to Terrien's house in backcountry Greenwich. His lawyer, Michael Sherman, has said Skakel's defense is that he was not in Belle Haven at the time Moxley's death may have occurred.
Andrea Shakespeare Renna said she was at the Skakel home with schoolmate Julie Skakel, Michael's sister, on the night Moxley was killed, and she is confident Michael Skakel never got in that car.
"Was Michael Skakel in the house after that car left?" Senior Assistant State's Attorney Susann Gill asked Renna, who had become friends with several of the Skakel siblings.
"Yes," she answered.
"From 1975 to today, have you been certain Michael was home after that car left?"
"Yes," Renna responded.
Renna also said she was sitting in the Skakel kitchen and saw a "flash" out the window, which appeared to be a person running across the Skakel yard. She could not tell who it was, she said.
Renna, who attended Convent of the Sacred Heart with Julie Skakel, said she and Julie were called to the school headmaster's office on the day Moxley's body was found. They were told to return to the Skakel home immediately, Renna said.
It was not clear why Renna was sent to the Skakel house.
When they arrived, Michael came out to the car, Renna said, and told the two girls that Moxley had been killed.
"What did Michael say to you?" Gill asked Renna.
"That he and Tommy (Skakel) were the last to see Martha that night," Renna said.
"How did he appear?" Gill asked.
"Sort of hyper," Renna answered.
That testimony was important to the prosecution because the Skakels have said that Thomas Skakel was the last family member to see Martha on the night she was killed. It also made clear that the prosecution is likely to argue the crime occurred early in the night, close to 10 p.m., and that Michael Skakel was still home at that time because he never went to his cousin's house.
In his cross-examination, Sherman tried to show that Renna's prior testimony about Skakel had never been that clear. Sherman argued that Renna told State Inspector Frank Garr in 1991 that she wasn't sure if she saw the boys' car leave.
The jury also heard from former Detective James Lunney, two of Skakel's and Moxley's childhood friends -- Helen Ix Fitzpatrick and Jacqueline Wetenhall O'Hara -- and Littleton.
Lunney told the jury he found a golf club, similar to the one used to kill Moxley, inside the Skakel home the evening her body was found. He said he did not seize the club that day because Rushton Skakel Sr., Michael's father, was not at home and he wanted to get permission before removing anything from the property.
Lunney also said that he and other Greenwich police officers did not search the house at that time. He took the golf club from the home on Nov. 1, after Rushton Skakel Sr. had returned, he said. The golf club had a label on it with Michael Skakel's mother's name.
Julie Skakel, who was in the courtroom, cried when she saw her mother's name in a photograph of the golf club's label.
O'Hara, a friend of Moxley's, read portions of Moxley's diary to the courtroom. The diary, although made public Tuesday in a state motion, had not been read previously in court. O'Hara, who was mentioned in the diary, read portions that establish a relationship between Moxley and the Skakel brothers.
There was nothing unusual about the relationship between the neighborhood teens, O'Hara said.
After she left the courtroom, Skakel followed her out of the building to ask how she has been. They had only seen each other three times since 1975, she said. They met cordially outside of the courthouse.
"She just said they were all pulling for me," Skakel said later of his conversation with O'Hara.
Also testifying yesterday was a friend and neighbor of the Skakel family, Helen Ix Fitzpatrick, who went out with Martha on Oct. 30, 1975, and last saw her at the Skakel home with Thomas Skakel.
Fitzpatrick said her dog, Zock, barked wildly from around 9:45 p.m. that night to 10:15 p.m. She was on the telephone and stepped outside to see what was wrong, she said.
The dog was facing the Moxley property and barking uncontrollably in the middle of the road, she said.
"He always barked, but not like that," Fitzpatrick said. "He barked at everybody, but he'd stop. That night I went out and I called him and called him and he just wouldn't come, and he always came. I'll never forget it."
Sherman pressed Fitzpatrick to find out if Skakel was with the other boys who left in the car to take Terrien home that night. She said he was probably in the car but she could not be certain. She also said she left the Skakel property through the back yard and would not have seen anything happening at the front of the house about 9:30 p.m. that night.
Littleton, a suspect in the case for many years, moved into the Skakel house on the night of Moxley's death. That night, he watched "The French Connection" on television with Thomas Skakel, who joined him for one scene at about 9:45 p.m., he said.
After Moxley's body was found, Littleton was told to take Michael, Thomas and John Skakel and Terrien to the family's home in upstate New York, he said yesterday. They stayed in Windham for the duration of the weekend, he said, and he never heard the Skakel boys discuss Moxley's death.
Littleton also said he never met Moxley.
His testimony was significant for prosecutors, who say the Skakels tried to cover up for Michael.
Littleton, who is taking at least six medications for bipolar disorder, said he returned to the Skakel house after his coaching job at Brunswick School on Oct. 31, unaware that someone in the neighborhood had been murdered.
"When I entered the (Skakel) home, there were approximately 10 to 15 men in suits and ties discussing what, I don't know," Littleton said. He took the Windham order from one of those men, he said.
Littleton's cross-examination was delayed because Superior Court Judge John Kavanewsky Jr. has yet to rule on defense motions regarding Littleton. The judge will hear arguments today on whether the defense, who alleges Littleton confessed to the murder, can admit his statements as evidence.
Jurors, who will not hear today's arguments on the motions, will return to the case on Monday.