- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2002

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) Calling Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel a "smug brat," prosecutors used Mr. Skakel's own words yesterday to try to convince jurors that he killed neighbor Martha Moxley in 1975.
The defense said Mr. Skakel was utterly innocent and accused prosecutors of playing "musical chairs" with different suspects over the past quarter-century.
Both sides finished their closing arguments yesterday in the murder case against Mr. Skakel. The jury will begin deliberations today.
Mr. Skakel, 41, is accused of beating Martha to death with a golf club in October 1975, when both were 15-year-old neighbors in a wealthy gated community in Greenwich. The golf club was matched to a set owned by Mr. Skakel's mother. Mr. Skakel is a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, widow of Robert F. Kennedy.
Prosecutor Jonathan Benedict talked jurors through the crime scene while playing excerpts from a taped interview Mr. Skakel gave to an author in 1997.
On the tape, Mr. Skakel says he was panicked the morning after the murder when Martha's mother came to the Skakel house looking for her daughter. The prosecutor highlighted a portion of the tape where Mr. Skakel says he was worried "of what I went to bed with."
"Was that the Freudian slip of all time?" Mr. Benedict asked the jury as the photo projected in the courtroom changed to the crime scene shot.
Mr. Benedict also said Mr. Skakel confessed or made incriminating statements in the more than 25 years that followed.
"The smug brat boasted, 'I can get away with anything,'" Mr. Benedict said.
The defense argued that Mr. Skakel didn't know until the morning after the slaying that Martha was missing and became worried because he had been out late that night and feared he would be connected with her disappearance.
Defense attorney Michael Sherman said Mr. Skakel "didn't do it, he doesn't know who did it, he wasn't there when the crime was committed and he didn't confess."
Mr. Sherman said Mr. Skakel had problems as a teen-ager, "but they never rose to the level that he became a demonic killer on Halloween."
Mr. Benedict told jurors that the only person whose memory of that night appears clear is Michael Skakel. Members of Mr. Skakel's family are able to recall details of his alibi that he was visiting a cousin at the time of the killing but recall little else, Mr. Benedict said.
"What they truly remember they simply don't want you to know," Mr. Benedict said.


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