"Moxley Probe Tightens Focus"
By J.A. Johnson Jr., Staff Writer

BRIDGEPORT - Even as defense attorneys seek to block their statements, witnesses who attended a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center where an alleged murder confession was made continue to give grand jury testimony in the probe of the 1975 slaying of Martha Moxley of Greenwich.

Yesterday morning, two women who attended the Elan School rehab facility in Maine with murder suspect Michael Skakel made a brief appearance in the sealed grand jury room of the Fairfield County Courthouse, according to a court source.

The women, who prosecutors would not identify, were flown in from outside Connecticut at the state's expense for their 20-minute session with the grand jury. Several other former Elan School residents and staff members have preceded them since the grand jury began taking testimony in July.

Prosecutors allege in court documents that during Skakel's stay at the rehab facility from 1978 to 1980, Elan School owner Joseph Ricci, in the presence of other residents, confronted Skakel about his involvement in Moxley's death and that Skakel allegedly confessed to murdering his 15-year-old neighbor.

Ricci has refused to testify before the grand jury about the allegation on the basis of doctor-patient privilege, and State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict, who is assisting the grand jury, filed an application for an order compelling the rehab center owner's testimony.

Lawyers representing both Skakel and Elan School in September filed an injunction seeking to block as evidence testimony of such conversations that may have occurred at Elan. They say such conversations are confidential communications under the physician-patient privilege. In open-court hearings that began last month, defense lawyers have presented witnesses that they hope will establish that Elan School was a licensed rehab facility that provided treatment under the direction of a physician.

On Nov. 4, defense lawyers lost a bid to bar further grand jury testimony from former Elan residents and staff until Superior Court Judge Edward Stodolink ruled on the injunction, but the judge said the testimony could continue. Should Stodolink grant the injunction, the grand jury would be instructed to disregard as evidence any testimony it already heard concerning Elan School and the alleged murder confession.

A sixth and possibly final day of the hearing is scheduled Dec. 1, and Stodolink's ruling is expected shortly afterward.

Moxley was bludgeoned to death the evening of Oct. 30, 1975, on the lawn of her home on Walsh Lane in the Belle Haven section of Greenwich. The murder weapon was a 6-iron that investigators linked to a set of golf clubs owned by the Skakels. Two Skakel children, Thomas and Michael, then 17 and 15, respectively, were among the last persons known to be with Moxley on the night of the murder, and both are identified as the only suspects. They are the sons of Rushton Skakel, the brother of Ethel Kennedy, U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's widow. No one has ever been charged for the murder, and both Skakel brothers have maintained their innocence.