Exclusive: Ghosts Of Greenwich
Kennedy shares new details about two young men who were allegedly in the gated Belle Haven community in Greenwich, Conn., the night of Moxley's murder.
He also tells Correspondent Lesley Stahl how he personally elicited details of their possible involvement from Tony Bryant, cousin of NBA player Kobe Bryant.
48 Hours Investigates is investigating the developments of the last few days that supporters hope will prove that Michael Skakel is an innocent man. This case was last updated in April.
It’s spring of 2002, and the end of a trial that Dorthy Moxley had been waiting and praying for, for nearly 30 years.
Those prayers were finally answered after four days of deliberations, 27 years after the murder of her daughter Martha.
For the Moxleys, it was the end of a long ordeal. “You know, this is Martha's day,” says Dorthy Moxley. “This is truly Martha's day."
There is no doubt in her mind that Skakel committed this crime. But for the family of convicted murderer Michael Skakel, it was the lowest moment in their long ordeal.
"For us, this trial has felt like a witch hunt," says David Skakel, Michael’s brother. “For our family, grieving has coincided with accusation. Michael is innocent.”
“I know there is no way on earth he could have done this,” says younger brother, Stephen Skakel. “And I will fight with the last breath in me to get him free.”
In April, three members of the Skakel family -- Stephen and his brothers John and David -- spoke publicly about their brother, Michael. With Michael’s appeal scheduled for this fall, his brothers decided to go public.
Stephen will never forget the moment the jury returned its verdict against his brother. "I looked down at the floor, and you know, my whole world had been shattered,” he remembers.
"Our brother Michael's been stolen from us,” adds David.
“He's innocent,” says John. “I know that."
But they are not alone in their conviction. Robert Kennedy Jr., Michael’s cousin, has also been speaking out in his defense.
“And you know people are going to dismiss that and say, 'Well, of course he's defending his cousin,'" says Kennedy. "But the facts speak for themselves ... I'm utterly convinced that he did not do the crime."
Kennedy, a former prosecutor and now a professor of law at Pace University, spent several months re-examining the conviction of his cousin. Since his findings were published last February in The Atlantic Monthly, Kennedy says he has received hundreds of letters about the case.
"I treated all these things with a lot of skepticism," he says.
But when a letter from a former classmate of Michael Skakel named Crawford Mills arrived, Kennedy was intrigued: "Crawford told me that Tony had information about the murder of Martha Moxley."
Tony is Tony Bryant, cousin of basketball star Kobe Bryant - who is facing charges of rape. He claims that two of his childhood friends boasted about committing the murder.
"They went up to Greenwich on several occasions with Tony. That one of them ... became obsessed with Martha Moxley," says Kennedy.
Now, based on this new information, Skakel's defense attorney says she plans to file for a new trial.
For the Skakels, it's almost ironic that a Kennedy has come to their brother's defense. But they believe it was the "Kennedy connection" that put them in the spotlight to begin with.
The TV miniseries, “Murder in Greenwich,” is just the latest in a parade of books, articles and TV dramatizations about Martha Moxley’s murder - led by writer Dominick Dunne and disgraced policeman-turned-writer Mark Fuhrman.
When Michael first emerged as a suspect, both Dunne and Fuhrman referred to him as a Kennedy cousin. “I think you have a lot of problems with lots of power and money and politics,” says Fuhrman.
The Skakel brothers are the nephews of Ethel Skakel Kennedy, who married Robert Kennedy in 1950.
“The Skakel family were as powerful and as rich as the Kennedys,” says Dunne. But the Skakel brothers disagree with that statement.
"Dominick Dunne calls us all a bunch of rich snobs,” says Stephen. “But he was the only one that I saw coming to court every day in a limousine."
“These comments are coming from people who don’t know us, and who have never even quizzed us on our lives or asked us or really seen us for who we are,” adds David.
The brothers say they live modest lives. Stephen has worked for a humanitarian aid group for 11 years. David works as a county recycling manager. And John sells insurance.
But once upon a time, the Skakels were millionaires, living a life of wealth and privilege. Their father, Rushton Skakel, had inherited a fortune from the family mining company.
"It was a different time back then, a whole different life," remembers John.
Thirty years ago, the family lived in the exclusive Belle Haven section of Greenwich, Conn.
“It was a fairly well-to-do area,” remembers Stephen. “It was a very friendly, open neighborhood. There were lots of children. It was a wonderful place to grow up."
A cloud cast a shadow over those happy times for this family of six boys and a girl when they lost their mother to cancer.
“I remember my father said, 'Your mother has died. If you want to go to your room and cry, that’s fine.' And it was never discussed again,” says Stephen. “He was just as traumatized as we were.”
Unable to cope with raising seven children on his own, Rushton hired a nanny, and then, in October 1975, a live-in tutor named Ken Littleton. Littleton was a football coach and, as Stephen remembers, “pretty much a loner.”
The day after Littleton took up residence in the Skakel home, Martha Moxley, the Skakel's pretty next-door neighbor, was found murdered.
Martha Moxley was murdered at the age of 15. Len Levitt, a reporter for New York Newsday, has spent nearly twice as many years investigating her murder.
"I became an old man doing this case," says Levitt. "My kids weren't even born when I started this. They are 18 and 20 years old at this point."
Levitt is now writing a book on the case he began following after Martha’s death on Oct. 30, 1975 – the night before Halloween.
"Martha does not return home and her mother, obviously, is concerned,” remembers Levitt. “And she starts making calls at about 1 a.m. that night. The police now are called that morning by Mrs. Moxley and they start searching.”
Martha was found the next day, beaten to death with a golf club. In fact, she was so severely beaten that the golf club is shattered into four pieces.
This was the first clue the police had to go on.
“It turned out that the day the body was found, police found a golf club that matched the murder weapon inside the Skakel home,” says Levitt. But at the time, he says it wasn’t enough to arouse their suspicions.
The investigation began by establishing the likely time of Martha’s death. To do this, Greenwich police consulted forensic expert Dr. Michael Baden.
"It was our opinion that the time of death, based only on stomach contents, was somewhere between 9:30 and 10 o'clock," says Baden.
The police then established who had been with Martha that night. According to Levitt, Martha arrived at the Skakel house around 9 p.m. with some friends. She got into the Skakels' Lincoln, which was parked in the driveway, and sat between Michael and his older brother, Tommy. A short time later, the Skakels say, Martha got out of the car with Tommy, while Michael and a few others drove off.
Around 9:15 p.m., Michael went with his older brothers (Rushton Jr., John and his cousin, Jimmy Terrian) back to Terrian's house. During the time of Martha’s murder, John Skakel remembers being at the Terrians' house, and watching the U.S. premiere of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”
"At 10 p.m., Michael was eight miles away with myself, my brother Rushie and Jimmy Terrian,” says John.
Meanwhile, back at the Skakel home, what goes on between Martha and Tommy is sort of playful - pushing back and forth with sexual overtones. Her friends are so embarrassed they leave.
Tommy tells the police that he last sees Martha at 9.30 p.m. that night when she leaves to go home. But Martha never makes it home.
Tommy is seen shortly after 10 p.m. with the tutor, Littleton, who is unpacking and watching “The French Connection” on TV.
Everyone the Greenwich police interviewed, everyone who saw Martha that night had an alibi. In fact, Michael Skakel’s alibi was so strong, he was not considered a suspect.
Several weeks passed before investigators turned their attention to the person they believed was the last to see Martha alive: Tommy Skakel. After his last meeting with Martha, Tommy said he went inside to write a paper on Abraham Lincoln. The police later found out that no teacher at Tommy’s school had ever assigned the paper. By late fall, according to Levitt, they were “focusing on Tommy with a vengeance.”
“It was shock and disbelief,” remembers Stephen. “He said he didn’t do it. And I know he didn’t do it.”
Tommy Skakel lived under a cloud of suspicion for years. Now married with children, he is the only family member who refused to talk with 48 Hours. In the end, police never charged him, partly because of his alibi that night.
“The problem with Tommy as a murder suspect is that if this happened at 10 o'clock, Tommy's alibi is Ken Littleton,” says Levitt.
With no new leads, the investigation went cold. But Dorthy Moxley never gave up hope: “We knew it had to be one of the boys, either Tommy or Michael. The murder weapon came from that house and that was the last place she was seen.”
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