Skakel Trial Nears Finish

The older sister of Michael Skakel told police in 1975 that she thought she saw him run across the family property the night Martha Moxley was killed. In testimony Wednesday, she said she didn't believe it was him.

Julie Skakel testified at her brother's murder trial that although she at first thought it was Michael and called out his name, the figure did not respond. In a 1975 interview with police, she said she could not see the figure very well.

She said she was in the driveway about 9:30 p.m. when she saw the figure run past — about the same time Michael Skakel now says he was miles away, visiting a cousin.

Michael Skakel, 41, is charged with beating Moxley to death with a golf club in 1975 when they were 15-year-old neighbors in Greenwich. Skakel is a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy.

The sister's testimony came Wednesday as the trial nears its end. She was called as a rebuttal witness by prosecutors, who said they may call more Monday when the trial resumes.

Closing arguments were scheduled for Monday. Attorneys planned to meet Thursday to discuss instructions to the jury.

Skakel's defense attorneys argue that he left with a group of other teen-agers to take a cousin home around the time Moxley was killed, which a medical expert for the defense estimated at 10 p.m. on Oct. 30 — a time that conforms with Skakel's alibi. The state's medical examiner has said the time of death could be anywhere between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. the next day.

Julie Skakel testified Wednesday she wasn't sure who the figure was she saw run past that night, but said, "I think I yelled out, `Michael!"'

Prosecutors reminded her of statements she made to police in 1975 and her testimony before a grand jury in 1998. In the police interview, she said she thought the running figure was Michael Skakel.

Julie Skakel, who was 18 in 1975, said she first thought the person might have been Michael because he was always out with friends on "Mischief Night," the night before Halloween. But even at that time, she was uncertain who the figure was, she said.

"I said, `Michael, come back here!' and no one answered and they just kept going," she told police then.

She also reported seeing a figure run in front of the house later that night after she returned from taking a friend home. "As I was walking to the front door, someone ran in front of me," she said. "It looked like it was holding something, maybe a bundle."

She told defense attorney Michael Sherman she was sure that figure was not Michael "because of the size."

Prosecutors also called to the stand another of Skakel's former classmates at a substance abuse treatment center in Maine. Jennifer Pease, 36, backed up earlier testimony that Skakel had confessed to killing Moxley while at the Elan School.

Pease said fellow student Gregory Coleman, who died last year after using heroin, told her Skakel had talked about killing a girl.

"He said that he had beaten some girl's head in with a golf club and killed her," Pease said.

Skakel's lawyers rested their defense on Tuesday without calling him as a witness and allowing a tape made in 1997 and played by prosecutors last week to stand as the only account the jury will hear from the defendant.

Skakel said on the tape that after returning from his cousin's home he briefly roamed the neighborhood then climbed a tree on the Moxley property. He said he threw sticks and small rocks at Moxley's window and yelled her name, then went home after fondling himself.

He has steadfastly denied any involvement in Moxley's slaying, and Sherman said there was no need to call him as a witness.