Brothers' Tales
Second Kennedy kin admits lying in murder case

By Leonard Levitt

A second relative of Ethel Kennedy now admits he lied to Greenwich police about his whereabouts the night a teenage neighbor was murdered as she left his Greenwich, Conn., home 20 years ago.
In 1975, a few days after the murder of Moxley on Halloween eve, Michael Skakel, then 15, told Greenwich police he had left the victim with his older brother, Thomas, in the Skakel driveway at about 9:15 p.m. Michael said he then drove with two of his other brothers and his cousin, James Terrien, to Terrien's house a few miles away. Michael told police he returned home about 11 p.m. and went to sleep.
Now, Michael has admitted to private investigators that he went to the Moxley house around 11:30 p.m. and, apparently believing Martha was alive, threw stones at a window to awaken her, sources said. He then passed what was later found to be the murder site, where he says he heard noises but saw nothing.
Martha, then 15, was found the following day at the edge of her property a few hundred yards away, beaten to death with a golf club, battered so hard the club split into three pieces. Her dungarees and underpants were pulled down around her knees, although there was no evidence of sexual assault.
Michael is not the only member of the Skakel family, heirs to the Great Lakes Carbon Co., once one of the largest privately held companies in the country, who now admits lying to the police about his whereabouts the night Martha was slain.
Last Sunday, Newsday reported that Thomas Skakel, the 17-year-old nephew of Ethel Kennedy and the last person known to see Martha alive, has admitted to private investigators that he lied to Greenwich police about his whereabouts the night she was murdered, according to the sources.
The new account from Thomas places him with Martha at precisely the time police believe she was murdered, although Thomas continues to deny any knowledege of Martha's murder.
Greenwich police believed Martha was killed at approximately 9:50 to 10 p.m., based on the fact that two neighborhood dogs began barkinguncontrollably at that time. If Martha's death occurred then, Michael's admission that he lied would have no consequence.
Authorities in the Fairfield County state's attorney's office now investigating her death are less certain of the time she died, however, and speculate she could have been murdered at a later hour.
Like Thomas, Michael Skakel gave his new account not to Connecticut law-enforcement authorities, who have been prevented by Skakel family attorneys from interviewing them for the past 20 years, but to private investigators hired by the Skakel family four years ago.
His admission prompted Fairfield County state's attorney Donald Browne, who is currently heading the investigation into Martha's murder, to say last week, "These piecemeal disclosures of evidence emphasize the significance of this family's refusal to cooperate with law enforcement for almost 20 years. I certainly hope these investigators will produce existing authenticated reports so that the investigation may be pursued, assisted by them."
Michael Skakel, whose whereabouts are not known, could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Thomas Sheridan, who hired the investigators in 1991 "to clear the family name," as he put it, did not return telephone calls.
As for Thomas, in 1975, he told the Greenwich police he last saw Martha at 9:30 p.m. when he says he left to go inside his home and write a school report on Abraham Lincoln. Witnesses told police the two had been together outside the Skakel home pushing and shoving one another in a playful and flirtatious manner.
In 1993, he told private investigators that shortly after 9:30 p.m., he returned outside to meet Martha, who he says waited for him, the sources said. The two, Thomas told the investigators, remained together for an additional 20 minutes in a sexual encounter, the sources said.

Copyright 1995, Newsday