Moxley probe renews push

Connecticut Post, Staff writer

BRIDGPORT - The state Tuesday renewed its effort to bring the brother of Ethel Kennedy to Connecticut to testify before a grand jury investigating the death of a Greenwich girl more than 20 years ago. State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict confirmed that his office filed paperwork with the Superior Court in Martin County, Fla.. to force Rushton Skakel to come back to the state. Skakel, 74, whose two sons are suspects in the 1975 death of Martha Moxley, last month fought efforts to bring him back to Connecticut. His lawyers contended that Skakel is not competent. The 15-year-old Moxley was beaten to death with a golf club Oct. 30, 1975, on the grounds of her family's home in the exclusive gated community of Belle Haven in Greenwich. The crime has never been solved. Skakel, who lives in Hobe Sound(t Fla., was subpoenaed in September under the interstate witness compact. The state was poised to ask a Florida judge to order Skakel, under threat of a finding of contempt, to return to Connecticut. But in a surprise move, Benedict backed off and said he would not be pursuing Skakel as a witness at that time. But Tuesday, Benedict said the state is not ending its efforts to obtain Skakel's return. just continuing it to another date. Frank Garr, an inspector for the state's attorney's office who is coordinating the investigation, said Skakel is an important witness in the investigation. He said Skakel's claimed infirmities are not an issue. "We will fly him up here in an ambulance if we have to," he said. He explained that it will be up to Superior Court Judge George Thim, the grand juror holding the investigation, to decide whether Skakel is competent to testify. No one has ever been charged in Moxley's staying. Investigators have said their suspects in the murder include Thomas and Michael Skakel, Rushton Skakel's sons and the nephews of Ethel and Robert Kennedy. Both Michael, then 15, and Thomas, then 17, were among a group of friends who were with Moxley the night she was beaten ' to death. Her body was found the next day on her family's estate. The golf club used to kill her was later matched to a set owned by the Skakel family. Both Michael and Thomas Skakel have repeatedly maintained their innocence. On Thursday, the state will try to force an official at a Maine school the Skakel boys attended to testify before the grand jury about an alleged murder admission Michael Skakel made during a therapy session at the school. Joseph Ricci, the owner and executive director of the Elan School in Poland, Maine, has refused to testify about any conversations he might have bad or overheard involving Michael Skakel. His lawyer, Edward MacColl, said school officials have a duty to protect confidential matters involving students. Benedict will attempt to convince a Superior Court judge that Ricci has no legal duty to maintain the confidence.

* Daniel Tepfer, who covers state courts, can be reached at 203-330-6308.