On day two, Skakel jurors ask to rehear testimony
By John Springer - Court TV
NORWALK, Conn. — Jurors deliberating the fate of Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel asked to have the testimony of six prosecution witnesses read back to them Wednesday, the second day of deliberations.
Dorthy Moxley, whose daughter Martha was murdered with a golf club in Belle Haven in 1975, was hoping for a guilty verdict Wednesday — Dorthy Moxley's 70th birthday. Jurors, however, are working on their own timetable and apparently are studying several issues carefully.
Jurors asked to rehear the testimony of Julie Skakel, the sister of defendant Michael Skakel. Prosecutors called Julie Skakel to the stand in an effort to damage her brother's alibi that he was at his cousin's house about the time Martha may have been attacked. Julie Skakel testified in 1998 that she did not see her father's car parked in the Skakel driveway when she left to drive friend Andrea Shakespeare Renna home at about 9:30 p.m.
Renna, whose testimony jurors also asked to rehear, testified that she was sure Michael Skakel was still home when she left the Skakel household. The testimony is important, prosecutors say, because it tends to cast doubt on Skakel's claim that he was not even in Belle Haven when his 15-year-old neighbor was killed.
The jurors were read the testimony of Renna and Julie Skakel before breaking for the day at about 5:15 p.m.
On Thursday, jurors will rehear the testimony of Helen Ix Fitzpatrick, a longtime friend of the Skakel family. Fitzpatrick testified that she believes that Skakel was in the car carrying his cousin home. The panel asked that the readback of Fitzpatrick's testimony be limited to the portion that deals with the whereabouts of principal players when Fitzpatrick left the Skakel household to go home.
Fitzpatrick testified that when she left for home, Martha and the defendant's older brother, Thomas Skakel, were horsing around and flirting enough to make Fitzpatrick uncomfortable. Thomas Skakel, a longtime suspect in the killing who was never charged, showed up at the courthouse here Wednesday for the first time since testimony began May 7.
His attorney, Emanuel Margolis of Stamford, would not let Thomas Skakel speak to reporters. Margolis said Thomas Skakel loves his brothers but admitted that it is no secret that they are not "buddy buddy."
Thomas Skakel was listed by both the prosecution and defense as a prospective witness, but neither side called him to testify. The defense said his testimony would have been cumulative. Prosecutors said they were not sure what he would say and did not want to take any unnecessary chances.
Jurors are also waiting to rehear the testimony of John Higgins, one of the witnesses who testified that Michael Skakel admitted killing Martha while at a Maine reform school in 1978. They also asked for readbacks of testimony from Andrew Pugh, a former friend of the defendant who said Skakel claimed once that he did not kill Martha but was at the crime scene masturbating that night.
Jurors asked for only the last two pages of forensic scientist Henry Lee's cross-examination testimony for the defense. Lee reconstructed the crime scene but said there was no physical evidence linking Michael Skakel directly to the murder.
Prosecutors believe they linked Skakel to the murder by his own statements over the years, including things he told a ghost writer for a never-published book on his life growing up as the nephew of Ethel Kennedy. The defense claims that things Skakel said did not amount to confessions; his lawyer argued that the jurors should not find him guilty based on circumstantial evidence that amounted to conjecture and speculation.
Defense lawyer Mickey Sherman said it is pointless to try to guess how jurors may be leaning by what they requested reread. Sherman said it is clear the panel is debating issues methodically and thoughtfully. "These are bright, bright people," Sherman said. "That's why we picked them."
In one other development Wednesday, Judge John Kavanewsky asked for the identity of the jury foreperson. The foreman is a married father of two from Wilton, Conn., who has young children. He works for a national company that trains drivers for corporations.