BRIDGEPORT - One of the three publicly identified suspects in the 1975 murder of
Greenwich teenager Martha Moxley has been given immunity from prosecution for
the crime in return for his grand jury testimony.
Following a brief hearing in open court in which he was ordered to testify
yesterday morning, 46-year-old Kenneth Littleton returned behind closed doors in
the Fairfield County Courthouse for nearly two hours to tell of what he knew
about the night Moxley was brutally bludgeoned and stabbed with a golf club
belonging to a prominent Greenwich family that had hired Littleton as a live-in
Littleton refused comment both before and after appearing before state Superior Court Judge George N. Thim, who in June was appointed as a one-judge investigatory grand jury to probe the 23-year-old murder case. In response to a question, Littleton's attorney agreed the fact his client was given immunity indicated Littleton no longer was a suspect.
"That's a development" in the case, Bridgeport defense attorney Eugene Riccio said. Stephen Carroll, a retired Greenwich police detective who investigated the Moxley murder and gave grand jury testimony yesterday afternoon, said he also believed yesterday's development reduced the number of suspects. "I think Littleton was eliminated (as a suspect) quite a while ago, but I would say that definitely is the case now," Carroll said. With Littleton now having immunity, that leaves as suspects the only two other people publicly identified by police as Moxley's possible murderer - Michael and Thomas Skakel, who were the murdered girl's next-door neighbors in 1975 and among those who were with Moxley the night of the crime. The brothers are nephews of the late U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy.
Littleton, then a 23-year-old teacher at the private Brunswick School in Greenwich, had been hired by the Skakel family as a live-in tutor for the brothers. He moved into the Skakel residence the night Moxley was murdered. According to police, Littleton failed two polygraph tests and remained a suspect for years. It was not until later - especially after it was revealed both Skakel brothers reportedly initially lied to police about their whereabouts the night their neighbor was murdered - that the focus of the probe appeared to shift away from the former tutor.
Carroll, who retired in 1978, said because he and other investigators had focused so heavily on Littleton as a suspect, and, to a lesser extent, Thomas Skakel, they never questioned the former tutor about the movements of Michael Skakel the night of the murder. The retired detective said Littleton's testimony can aid the grand jury probe because "he can establish a better timeline for what Michael did that night." A source close to the grand jury investigation confirmed last month that the current probe is seeking a clearer understanding of the activities of the younger Skakel brother.
According to police, Littleton consistently has stated he was watching the television premiere of "The French Connection" when Moxley was believed to have been killed the evening of Oct. 30, 1975. Littleton has stated under questioning that Thomas Skakel briefly watched the movie with him at about 10:30 that evening, about an hour after Thomas Skakel told police he bid Martha good night. Police have said they believed the murder occurred at about 10 p.m. near the driveway of Moxley's Walsh Lane estate. Police have said Michael Skakel told them he was at a cousin's house in backcountry Greenwich at the time.
According to published reports, both Skakel brothers significantly changed their stories years later when interviewed by private detectives the Skakel family hired in an attempt to clear the brothers as suspects. Thomas reportedly told the private investigators that after leaving Martha to go home like he told police, he later went back out to meet Moxley for a sexual encounter. Michael reportedly told the private investigators that after returning home from his cousin's house, he climbed a tree on the Moxley property and threw pebbles at what he believed to be Martha's bedroom window, and then trudged through what was later determined to be the crime scene as he walked home. In the murdered girl's diary, retained by police as evidence, Martha reportedly wrote about how both Skakel brothers appeared to be interested in her.
John Moxley said Littleton's grant of immunity is a significant milestone in the decades-long quest to find the murderer of his 15-year-old sister. "I hadn't realized they were focusing so heavily on the (Skakel) brothers, so for them to give Littleton immunity, that is pretty substantial," he said.
Littleton yesterday entered Judge Thim's closed third-floor courtroom at about 10:30 a.m., only to emerge minutes later for an open-court hearing across the hall before Judge John Ronan. It was explained to the judge that Littleton had invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, at which time State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict asked Ronan to compel Littleton to testify, explaining he believed Littleton had information that would be useful for the Moxley investigation. Ronan granted the request, and Littleton was ordered to return to Thim's court to supply the requested testimony.
Although immunity was not mentioned in the hearing, Riccio said a blanket guarantee against prosecution was "part and parcel" of being compelled to testify in grand jury proceedings. "Immunity is triggered by the (grand jury) statute," Riccio said. It was not until nearly 12:30 p.m. that Littleton emerged from Thim's courtroom, when he parted company with Benedict with a handshake. "Thank you," the now-gray former tutor said, giving the prosecutor a pat on the shoulder. Riccio said he hoped his client's testimony and grant of immunity will allow Littleton to finally close a painful chapter of his life. "He's had 23 years of being suspected of beating a little girl to death," Riccio said. "It certainly made life difficult for him, to say the least."
Going into the grand jury room after Littleton were Carroll, state Chief Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver and retired Greenwich police officer Millard Jones. It was not known why Carver, an assistant medical examiner in 1975, was subpoenaed to testify, as it had been then-Chief Medical Examiner Elliot Gross who performed the autopsy on Moxley's body. It was Carver, however, who last year authorized an independent review of the autopsy records for the victim's family by Dr. Michael Baden, a nationally prominent forensic pathologist and friend of the Moxleys. Jones, a youth officer in 1975, was one of the first police officers to arrive at the crime scene. His partner, the Rev. Daniel Hickman, a Baptist minister and retired police officer, gave grand jury testimony July 10.
The only other known person to have testified in the grand jury proceedings is retired Greenwich police chief Thomas Keegan. Now a South Carolina state representative, Keegan was captain of detectives when Moxley was slain. Sources said Keegan traveled to Bridgeport late last month and returned home the same day after appearing before Thim.
Sources said future grand jury witnesses include a boyhood friend of Michael Skakel who can further establish that there had been a relationship between Moxley and the younger Skakel brother.
Thanks to J.A. Johnson Jr. for the article.