Defense probably won't call Skakel servant
By J.A. Johnson Jr. - Greenwich Time
A longtime Skakel family servant who was a member of the household the night Martha Moxley was killed may never be called as a witness in the murder trial of Michael Skakel.
Although Ethel Jones, now living in Georgia, claimed in a recent interview that Skakel "didn't do it," the lead prosecutor in Skakel's trial said recently he would like to know why the defense does not appear intent on calling Jones as a witness -- even though her name appears on the defense's witness list.
"(Jones) was approached (by prosecution investigators) in the early 1990s, but she didn't really have anything to offer," State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict said. "But then again, (Skakel's older brother, Tommy) was the focus of the investigation at the time."
Tommy Skakel, who was 17 at the time of the killing, had been the initial prime suspect because he was the last person to be seen with Moxley before she was bludgeoned and stabbed on Oct. 30, 1975. The weapon was identified as a golf club owned by the Skakel family.
Both Moxley and Michael Skakel were 15 at the time of the murder. The prosecution, which rested its case Tuesday, attempted in part to establish jealous rivalry for Moxley's affection between the Skakel brothers as a motive for the crime.
Benedict said he planned to re-establish contact with the Georgia woman to determine whether she has any information helpful to the prosecution.
Skakel's defense attorney, Michael Sherman, said, "We will probably not be calling on Mrs. Jones. Now it doesn't appear as if we are going to call her. The way the case is going, I don't think we need her."
Sherman said if Jones were called to testify, she would be used as a character witness for the defendant, or to present factual testimony. He would not elaborate.
Timothy Dumas, a Greenwich journalist and author of a book on the Moxley murder, "A Wealth of Evil," said that as a trusted member of the Skakel household, Jones would have been in position to see or hear things that might help the prosecution's case against Skakel.
During her three decades of employment with the Skakels, Jones lived in an apartment above a carriage house at the rear of the Skakel mansion.
"After the death of Mrs. (Ann) Skakel (Michael Skakel's mother) in 1973, Ethel Jones really was the one who ran the Skakel household," Dumas said.
"I think the Skakels would have been extremely careful about saying anything about the case within earshot of their hired help, but considering the position Ethel Jones held in their home, you would expect that she would have noticed changes in the family's behavior," Dumas said.
Dumas recounted how a former Moxley murder suspect, Kenneth Littleton, who moved into the Skakel mansion the day of the murder, Oct. 30, 1975, had told authorities that the Skakel family appeared to begin treating Michael Skakel differently in the murder's aftermath.
"So you would have to expect that Ethel Jones would have noticed those changes as well," Dumas said.
"If Littleton noticed the change in the way Michael's siblings acted toward him, then certainly Ethel Jones couldn't have missed it."
"I would love to hear what Ethel Jones has to say, because sometimes how people say things is as telling as what they say. And who knows what could be shaken loose once she is on the stand," Dumas said.
Originally hired as the Skakels' cook in the early 1960s, Jones assumed more responsibilities over time. After Ann Skakel's death, Dumas said, Jones' role evolved into mother figure for the six Skakel sons and one daughter.
Earlier this month, in a brief encounter outside the door of her home in Brookstone, a neat, tree-lined subdivision on the outskirts of Columbus, Ga., some 90 miles south of Atlanta, Jones refused to speak with a reporter concerning the Skakel trial.
Minutes later, re-contacted by telephone, Jones agreed to make a few brief remarks.
"He didn't do it," Jones said of Michael Skakel's alleged involvement in the Moxley slaying. "I knew him all his life, since he was a baby. He was a good child. He don't have murder in him."