Skakel Trial: Allegations of Confession

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The 78-year-old father of Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel says that he doesn't remember a lot about the savage 1975 murder of Martha Moxley, in Greenwich, Connecticut. Wednesday, at the trial of his son, accused of killing the 15-year-old Moxley with a golf club, it appeared Rushton Skakel Senior couldn't recall much of anything at all. He couldn't remember all the names of his children, and when asked what happened on September 11, 2001, he said: "It was a very big incident, but I don't remember the details."

The father of seven claims he has dementia and prostate cancer, and yesterday he gingerly took a seat in the witness box of the Superior Court after greeting his accused son with a kiss on the cheek. Michael mouthed the words "I love you." Skakel Senior said that he did recall driving home from a hunting trip after murder. "The house was full but I don't remember any of the names of the people who were there." In fact, he returned to a chaotic scene of police, reporters and lawyers. He had then instructed live-in tutor Kenneth Littleton to take several of the children, including Michael, then 15, to Windham, New York. But the prosecution's attempts to extract the details of what he did next or if he ever discussed his son's supposed guilt, proved impossible.

With no luck examining the father, prosecutors turned to alleged admissions of guilt made by Skakel. They told jurors of testimony from from a grand jury inquiry four years ago, family friend and neighbor Mildred Ix said Skakel's father had confided to her that Michael might have been the killer. "He said," Ix testified then, "Michael had come up to him and he said, 'you know, I had a lot of to drink that night and I would like to see, I would like to see if, if I could have had so much to drink that I would have forgotten something and I could have murdered Martha, and I would like to make sure at that night knowing something like that happened?' So he asked to go under sodium pentothal or whatever it was."

But Ix, who said she was close to the family, dramatically changed her story under cross-examination. Ix explained that Skakel Senior had indeed said that Michael had wanted to take a truth drug, but that her statement that he might have murdered Moxley was wrong. "I know Rush never, ever heard from Michael that he ever killed anyone," Ix said. "I then assumed something that was really in my heart of hearts. I put in Rushton Skakel's mouth what I actually thought." Outside the court, Moxley's brother John angrily branded Ix's new story "a boldfaced lie."

A hairdresser recounted another alleged admission by Skakel when the defendant was a teenager. Matthew Tucciarone described in detail how Skakel made the alleged confession as he cut his hair at the Golden Touch salon in Greenwich in the mid 1970s. Skakel, a then bushy-haired youngster had sat in the hairdresser's chair wearing a plaid shirt and trousers while speaking to a young woman. Tucciarone said Skakel was angry and told the girl he wanted to take a gun and kill someone. "You can't do that," the girl said, and Skakel allegedly replied "Why not, I killed before." Defense attorney Michael Sherman asked Tucciarone why he never told police in the past and only came forward in April this year. Tucciarone replied by saying he had once read in a newspaper that Skakel was overseas. "That's another country's problem, not ours here," he said to a burst of laughter from the gallery, jury and even the judge.