Everyone has to eat: Accused, victim's
family don't break bread together
By John Nickerson, Special Correspondent - Greenwich Time

NORWALK -- When state Superior Court breaks for lunch, the Moxley and Skakel families settle into separate restaurants, but jurors and reporters head for the same place.

Despite daily warnings by Judge John Kavanewsky Jr. against jurors discussing the murder trial or listening to media accounts, members of the jury and the media seem to prefer Foodworks luncheonette on Wall Street.

There, owner Carol Kasmarski pushes two or three tables together for the jurors, who sit on one side of the narrow luncheonette, while reporters take up separate tables on the other.

For three weeks, the trial of Michael Skakel, accused of beating to death 15-year-old Martha Moxley in their Greenwich neighborhood in 1975, has drawn hordes of media and spectators to the Norwalk courthouse.

On any given weekday, up to 12 of the 16 jurors usually can be found at her restaurant, Kasmarski said.

With the volume discreetly muted on the restaurant's television, which is always set to CNN, Kasmarski last week took orders for grilled chicken over greens, cobb salad, soup and sandwiches.

"Everybody respects each other," said Kasmarski, who used to own and run the Chili Station in Greenwich. "The press honors the rule that they aren't allowed to talk to them."

Rhonda Stearley-Hebert, a spokeswoman for the state Judicial Branch, said the jurors are not sequestered or supervised during lunch.

Stearley-Hebert said she's had lunch at Foodworks a few times, and "nobody's arguing the merits of the case. It seems very professional. You are keyed into who's around you. The jurists know their responsibility, and the media has been responsible about their duties."

Dominick Dunne, who writes for Vanity Fair magazine, said Foodworks is his favorite for lunch.

"I truly believe in staying away," Dunne said of the stricture against talking with the jury. "We don't even nod to them. They play their part well, and we play our part well."

Dunne said he recently switched course and lunched at Ambrosia Bar & Grill on River Street. Owner Peter Alatsas said Dorthy Moxley, mother of the murdered girl, has a reserved table there.

"I like the food, I like the people and I like the atmosphere," Moxley said of Ambrosia.

One place Dunne said he did not want to dine was Ash Creek Saloon on Cross Street, where Skakel usually has lunch.

"They don't like me over there," said Dunne, who in 1993 wrote a novel based on the murder.

Ash Creek manager Jon Bagdon said Skakel's decision to have lunch at his restaurant has provided the largest jump in his business during the trial.

Bagdon said Ash Creek serves 15 to 20 more lunches than usual per day since the trial started, up to a dozen of them for the Skakel party.

"It's made some difference," Bagdon said. "But it hasn't been the gold rush I thought it would be."



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