NORWALK, Conn. – Two acquaintances of Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel testified Monday that he told them he was on Martha Moxley's property the night she was killed in 1975 but denied involvement in the murder.
The testimony places Skakel at the crime scene. He previously told police he was at his cousin's house around the time of his neighbor was killed in another part of Greenwich.
Skakel, 41, a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel, is charged with beating Moxley to death with a golf club later traced to a set owned by the Skakel family. Both Skakel and Moxley were 15 at the time.
Moxley's body was found under a pine tree on her property the morning of Oct. 31, 1975. The two men who testified Monday said Skakel told them he was in a tree on Moxley's property the previous night.
Michael Meredith, 34, testified that he met Skakel while working on Joseph Kennedy's congressional campaign in Massachusetts in 1986. They discovered that both had attended the Elan School, a residential substance abuse treatment center in Poland Spring, Maine.
Meredith said he and Skakel spent much of the summer of 1987 planning a class-action lawsuit against Elan over the way it treated its charges.
During a conversation, Skakel said he was innocent of the murder but said he had been masturbating in a tree the night of the killing, Meredith said.
"At one point he saw his brother Tommy crossing the yard," Meredith said. "After he was out of sight, he climbed down the tree and went back to his home."
Thomas Skakel was a longtime suspect because he was the last person seen with Moxley. Prosecutors have suggested that the Skakel brothers were competing for Moxley's affection and that Michael felt he had lost the attractive blonde to his older brother.
Meredith, the son of former football star Don Meredith, said Skakel told him he could see Moxley in the house and, apparently on prior occasions, had seen her undressing and leaving the shower.
Meredith said the remarks alarmed him and he left the Skakel house the following day.
"There was a fear factor," he said. "I thought Michael Skakel had a violence boiling under his skin. I was worried about the Martha Moxley situation. The whole situation became very unsettling to me."
During cross-examination, defense lawyer Michael Sherman noted Meredith's criminal record for burglary and other crimes. Meredith accused Sherman of leaking his name to the media and called the defense lawyer "an ambulance-chasing creep."
Andrew Pugh, who described himself as Skakel's best friend during their childhood, testified that Skakel had told him about the tree incident in 1991.
"I assumed it was the tree where her body was found," said Pugh, who also said Skakel denied involvement in the murder.
Sherman said he will probably call Thomas Skakel, who is expected to confirm Michael's alibi that he was at his cousin's house around the time of the murder.