Kennedy connection in trial for 1970s Moxley murder


US: Who murdered Martha Moxley? Twenty six and a half years ago, the pretty 15-year-old was bludgeoned to death with a golf club outside her home in the gated Belle Haven neighbourhood of Greenwich, Connecticut, on Hallowe'en morning. The trial of her alleged killer opened belatedly yesterday in the nearby town of Norwalk.

It has attracted the attention of at least 60 media organisations for one reason - the name of Kennedy.

Mr Michael Skakel (41), the recovering alcoholic nephew of Ms Ethel Kennedy, wife of Robert Kennedy, is charged with the murder of the young neighbour with whom he is alleged to have been infatuated.

That the trial should happen at all is a tribute to Mrs Dorothy Moxley (69), the victim's mother who has campaigned remorselessly to keep alive a case that has generated books, a film, and TV documentaries.

It has also generated at least two other suspects, the accused's elder brother, Thomas, and Mr Ken Littleton, a live-in tutor in the Skakel home. The prosecution is reported to have given Mr Littleton immunity for his testimony while Mr Skakel's lawyer has asked the court for permission to introduce evidence suggesting Mr Littleton was actually the killer. The judge has yet to rule on the request.

The 26-year delay complicates the challenges faced by the prosecution as at least two key witnesses have died.

Among the evidence the prosecution plans to present is testimony by former classmates of Mr Skakel at Elan, a school for disturbed teenagers, who will say they heard him confess to the Moxley killing in the late 1970s.

One of these was Gregory Coleman, a former convict who died last year from tainted heroin. But he testified before a grand jury for the prosecution that he heard Mr Skakel confess and claim "I am going to get away with murder. I'm a Kennedy".

Whether the court will admit the text of that testimony is unclear, and if it does the jury is likely to be told to weigh it carefully as Coleman has admitted to having taken cocaine before testifying and cannot be cross-examined.