Skakel siblings say brother is innocent
By Ryan Jockers - Greenwich Time

NORWALK -- For nearly as long as Martha Moxley has been dead, the Skakel family has lived under the shadow of suspicion and scrutiny. But even after a jury convicted Michael Skakel for her murder, family members maintained yesterday that he is innocent and vowed to vindicate him.

"We all know each other so very well, and we all stand behind our brother Michael, not out of loyalty, but stemming from an intimate understanding," David Skakel, one of Michael Skakel's six siblings, told reporters after the verdict was announced.

Standing in a parking lot behind state Superior Court in Norwalk, David Skakel said his family seeks a sense of "finality in this tragedy" as much as anyone.

"But truth is more important than closure," he said. "And we only know who did not do this. That is the extent of what our father, my brothers and sister know."

What the Skakels know about Moxley's murder has been in question since their 15-year-old Greenwich neighbor was found on Oct. 31, 1975, beaten to death with a golf club that belonged to their family.

As David Skakel recounted yesterday, the Skakels allowed Greenwich police officers into their Otter Rock Road home "without a warrant" in the days after Moxley was found and were "exceedingly cooperative" in the investigation until family members became suspects.

The siblings have moved from Greenwich, but recent events have brought the family back together, said David Skakel, who called the trial "a witch hunt."

"Twenty-seven years of insinuation and intimidation is enough," he said. "We hoped and prayed this trial would result in a vindication of Michael and our family of this tragedy. The most important thing for each of us is raising our children. We have to strive to ensure that the next generation of our family does not inherit the denigration that we ourselves have endured."

The verdict stripped Michael Skakel of the opportunity to raise his 3-year-old son, George, David Skakel said yesterday. Skakel and his former wife, Margot, were awarded joint custody of the boy in their divorce last year.

The Moxley murder may not have become a national story if her accused -- and now convicted -- brother had not been a nephew of Ethel Skakel Kennedy, widow of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

From the beginning, there was talk of a cover-up, and several former classmates said the "Kennedy cousin," as Michael Skakel is often called in the media, told them he would get away with murder because he was a Kennedy.

The Kennedy presence at the trial, however, was minimal. One family member, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., attended court for a few hours one day.

Michael Skakel's father, Rushton Skakel Sr., and four of his siblings -- Rushton Jr., John, David and Julie -- testified. His older brother Thomas Skakel, who police suspected before turning their attention to Michael, attended the trial just one day -- Wednesday, when it appeared possible the jury could reach a verdict.

Michael's youngest brother, Steven Skakel, was present every day of the four-week trial. Yesterday, he called the verdict disheartening.

"I love my brother and believe in him 100 percent," Steven Skakel said. "And I will fight until the last breath in me to get him free."

Michael Skakel's attorney, Michael Sherman, had made the same promise moments earlier in speaking with reporters.

When asked why he thought his brother was innocent, Steven Skakel echoed his brother David and said, "Because I know Michael and I know there is no way on Earth he could have done this."

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