Report of new info in Moxley murder clouded
By John Christoffersen
More than a quarter century after Martha Moxley's murder, Greg Byrne still remembers how police and his family grilled his 11-year-old brother to see if he could shed any light on what happened.
His brother, Geoffrey Byrne, was with the 15-year-old Moxley the night she was beaten to death with a golf club in 1975. He was never a suspect, but provided authorities with details about Moxley's last hours.
Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel was convicted last year of Moxley's murder. Last month, his lawyers said they will seek a new trial based on new allegations that two teenagers from the Bronx, N.Y., were involved in the murder.
Gitano "Tony" Bryant, a cousin of basketball star Kobe Bryant, reportedly told Skakel's defense team that he and his two friends were in the neighborhood that night with Geoffrey Byrne.
Byrne died in 1980 at age 16 in what his brother would describe only as a family tragedy. The Hartford Courant has reported the cause of death was a drug overdose.
In the family's first comments since the allegation surfaced, Greg Byrne told The Associated Press this week that his brother was repeatedly questioned by police and family members, but never mentioned being with Bryant or his friends.
"He got the third degree from everybody," Byrne said. "There was never any change in his story."
Byrne said it was "convenient" that his dead brother would be named as the local connection for two youths from the Bronx, one of whom is black. He spoke outside his family's home just feet from a private security booth in Belle Haven, close to the spot where Moxley was murdered.
Byrne noted that the murder occurred on "mischief night" before Halloween, when police and private security guards were active on patrol.
"It seems extremely far-fetched to me that there was anybody in Belle Haven that wasn't from the neighborhood and went unnoticed and uncommented on," Byrne said. "The place was crawling with people on the lookout for mischief. It boggles the mind to think that these kids were there that night and nobody noticed them. What are they, ghosts?"
Neal Walker, who described himself as a close friend of Byrne's, also said Byrne never mentioned Bryant or his friends.
"Basically he mentioned nothing about the guys being in the neighborhood that night," Walker said.
But Walker said he was friends with Bryant and had introduced him to Byrne.
"They had been in the neighborhood before and after the murder," Walker said, referring to Bryant and his friends. He said he did not know if Bryant and his friends were in Belle Haven the night of the murder.
Vito Colucci, an investigator for Skakel's defense, said Bryant and the two friends he implicated said they had been to Belle Haven before the day of the murder.
"One of the people that Bryant points at has told two investigators that he went back to Belle Haven two days after the murder to visit Geoff Byrne to talk," Colucci said.
Colucci also said investigators found discrepancies in the account by one of the two men named by Bryant regarding the time he went home and whether he was in Belle Haven.
"We found many discrepancies in his story," Colucci said. "His story changes."
As to the night of the murder, Bryant said he and his friends ran into Byrne at some point, Colucci said.
"He remembers meeting Geoff before he went home to New York," Colucci said.
Bryant has spoken to Skakel's defense team, but has made limited public comments. He did say last month that accounts of his statement were being blown out of proportion, but Colucci said Bryant stands by his account.
A telephone message was left for Bryant's attorney Thursday.
Byrne told police he was with Moxley and two other girls along with Skakel and his brother before he walked home with one of the girls, who gave the same account. Byrne reported hearing the sound of footsteps as he walked home, but ran and did not look back, according to a police report.
Greg Byrne said he wondered about the footsteps, but chalked it up to an 11-year-old boy getting nervous in the dark the night before Halloween.
After three months, Greg Bryne said his family told police they should stop questioning him. "How many times does he have to tell you the same story?" Byrne said the family told police.
Skakel's supporters have called Bryant's account credible, while prosecutors said they are increasingly skeptical.
Copyright © 2003, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.