Witness recants grand jury testimony
By Lindsay Faber - Greenwich Time
NORWALK -- A close friend of the Skakel family who told a grand jury in 1998 that Michael Skakel had told his father he "could have murdered Martha (Moxley)" changed her story yesterday and said her original testimony was mistaken.
Mildred Ix's words drew resentment and frustration from Dorthy and John Moxley, who sat speechless at state Superior Court in Norwalk and watched a friend betray them.
Ix, a former neighbor of the Skakel and Moxley families, testified four years ago before a one-judge grand jury, saying Rushton Skakel Sr. told her in 1981 that Michael was concerned he had too much to drink on the night of Martha Moxley's death in 1975 and might have forgotten murdering his 15-year-old neighbor.
"He said Michael had come up to him and he said, you know, 'I had a lot to drink that night. I would like to see -- I would like to see if -- if I could have had so much to drink that I would have forgotten something and I could have murdered Martha, and I would like to make sure at (sic) that night knowing something like that happened.' So he asked to go under sodium pentothal or whatever it was," Ix testified in 1998, according to court documents.
But yesterday at Michael Skakel's murder trial, in a surprise that raised ire from the Moxley family, Ix recanted.
She first denied the conversation with the senior Skakel occurred, then said Rushton Skakel Sr. told her Michael wanted to take sodium pentothal, also known as truth serum, but never said anything incriminating about his role in the murder. Moxley's body was found Oct. 31, 1975, in her Belle Haven yard. Skakel and Moxley were both 15 at the time.
"I know Rush never, ever heard from Michael that he ever killed anyone," Ix said yesterday. "I assumed something that was really in my heart of hearts. I put in Rushton Skakel's mouth what I actually thought. I'm sorry."
Ix said Michael Skakel never confessed to the crime.
Ix, who walked into court early in the morning with Dorthy Moxley and greeted her with a hug and kiss, walked briskly out of court yesterday afternoon with her husband and daughter.
Her family held a piece of paper in front of Ix's face so journalists would not photograph her.
After Ix's testimony, Dorthy and John Moxley, the victim's mother and brother for the first time since the trial started departed from their quiet, diplomatic style and blasted the friend they said betrayed them.
"She said to me after Martha died, 'I can't believe it would be Tommy, but I'd give you Michael in a minute,' " Dorthy Moxley said. "This was absolutely terrible. She seems to conveniently remember what she wants to."
John Moxley called Ix's testimony "bold-faced lies."
"Cissy Ix is pathetic," he said. "How she had this incredible change of heart is just unfathomable."
John Moxley said Ix family members came to his home for lunch a few years ago and asked the Moxleys to "lay off" the Skakels.
"She said to my mother, 'We think you should stop the investigation of the Skakel family. They've suffered enough already,' " he said.
Ix testified that she was best friends with the Skakels. Her daughter, Helen Ix Fitzpatrick, testified earlier in the trial that she was so close to the Skakel family growing up that she called Michael Skakel's father "Uncle Rush."
The jury heard from several other witnesses yesterday, including Rushton Skakel Sr., two forensic experts, a lawyer from Rushton Skakel's company who traveled to the Skakel home after Moxley's body was found and a Greenwich barber who believes he heard Michael Skakel say in the late 1970s that he killed someone.
Rushton Skakel Sr. testified yesterday that he did not remember having a conversation with Ix in which he incriminated his son. The 78-year-old Skakel, who suffers from dementia, said he could not remember all seven of his children's names, nor recall what happened Sept. 11.
When Rushton Skakel left the stand, Michael hugged his father and said, "I love you."
The Greenwich barber, Matthew Tucciarone, said Michael Skakel sat in his barber chair less than six months after Moxley's death and talked about wanting to get a gun to kill someone.
"You can't do that," a girl with him said, Tucciarone recalled. "Why not? I've killed before," Tucciarone recalled Skakel saying.
Skakel's lawyer, Michael Sherman of Stamford, seized on why Tucciarone did not come forward until last month and questioned how he could remember the Skakels and not other customers from the late 1970s.
The lawyer for Rushton Skakel's firm, James McKenzie, who works for the Great Lakes Carbon Co., said he was sent to the Skakel home the day Moxley's body was found to "control" the seven children while the elder Skakel was on a hunting trip. He was not there to serve as a criminal attorney, he said.
"Was there any particular person who appeared to be the most agitated?" Deputy Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano asked.
"Yes. Michael Skakel," McKenzie said.
Asked to elaborate, he said, "He was just a difficult child to control. He was running all over the house."
McKenzie said he did not attach any significance to the behavior.
Two forensic experts testified about two hairs found on Moxley's body at the crime scene. Dr. Henry Lee testified earlier that they bore a close resemblance to hairs belonging to Skakel family tutor Kenneth Littleton. Yesterday, a scientist who conducted a DNA analysis of the hairs said one did not belong to Littleton. The other hair did not provide an identifiable DNA sample.
The other scientist said her tests did not conclusively tie the hairs to Littleton.
Today, lawyers expect to hear from Larry Zicarelli, a former Skakel family driver who said Michael Skakel dove out of the car and climbed the Triborough Bridge in New York City after saying he had done something bad.
Classmates from the Elan School, a substance-abuse center in Maine, also are likely to testify today that Skakel confessed to the crime while attending the school.