Victim's brother: Defense hasn't helped Skakel
By Eve Sullivan - Greenwich Time
NORWALK -- The brother of murder victim Martha Moxley doesn't think defense attorneys for Michael Skakel made headway with this week's testimony from four former Elan School students.
The witnesses spoke of harsh treatment at the school in Poland Springs, Maine, in the 1970s and how they were made to admit certain things, some true and some untrue.
They said Skakel was continuously hounded about Moxley's murder, beaten in a boxing ring and forced to wear a sign that said, "Confront me on why I killed Martha Moxley."
"I loved everything the defense brought up because I think it worked in our advantage," John Moxley said outside the courthouse yesterday. The students' "treatment was based around their problems. Michael Skakel is the only one anyone remembers wearing a sign about a murder."
Skakel, 41, is on trial in state Superior Court in the Oct. 30, 1975, murder of Martha Moxley, who was his neighbor in the gated Greenwich community of Belle Haven. Both were 15 at the time.
Skakel was sent to Elan in 1978 after he was involved in a drunken driving accident in Windham, N.Y.
According to the testimony, Skakel broke down after hours of torture at Elan and said he didn't remember whether he killed Moxley. The witnesses said they believed Skakel cracked under the pressure but didn't commit the murder.
Angela McFillin, a former Elan student who lives outside Baltimore, testified yesterday that she contacted Skakel's defense attorney, Michael Sherman, upon hearing that Elan students were saying Skakel admitted to the murder.
"I wrote you a letter and told you it just wasn't true that he confessed," McFillin said.
John Moxley said the former Elan students who came to Skakel's defense were not present when he made his confessions. He said the first confession, to the now deceased Gregory Coleman, came before Skakel was confronted in a general meeting at Elan.
Another confession was made to John Higgins, some time after a general meeting, in the "wee hours" of the night, Moxley said.
"I think he had a guilty conscience," Moxley said. "I think his conscience is the backbone to why he's had a difficult life."
Tapes of Coleman's testimony to the grand jury were played for jurors last week, stating that Skakel admitted to driving in Moxley's skull with a golf club. Higgins testified that Skakel cried to him one night, first saying that he didn't know whether he killed Moxley, then finally admitting to it.
But Sherman seemed confident about the testimony of his four Elan students.
"I think when I said 'hellhole' it was an understatement," Sherman said yesterday. "No one was helped at Elan."
Sherman said his client was affected by the testimony of his former classmates, who detailed his beatings and other unusual treatment of students at the drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.
"Every time someone talked about the boxing match, Michael couldn't even look at the witness," he said.