NORWALK, Conn. – Nearly 27 years after 15-year-old Martha Moxley was bludgeoned to death with a golf club, the fate of her accused murderer, Michael Skakel, is in the hands of a jury.
The jury ended for the day after about six hours of deliberations. Defense attorney Michael Sherman, normally relaxed and quick with a quip, paced the courthouse hall.
"Michael's spending most of his time trying to calm me down," Sherman said.
Deliberations began Tuesday morning after prosecutors and defense attorneys presented their final arguments. Afterward, Skakel's lawyer met reporters outside to maintain his client's innocence.
"I don't think there's enough dots, and I don't think that they do connect," Sherman said.
Skakel, 41, a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow Ethel, is accused of beating Moxley to death on Oct. 30, 1975, when they were neighbors in a wealthy gated community in Greenwich. The golf club matched a set owned by Skakel's mother.
In his closing arguments, prosecutor Jonathan Benedict tried to paint a vivid picture of Skakel beating Moxley to death. A projected snapshot of a smiling, 15-year-old Moxley dissolved into a grim crime scene photo.
Benedict played excerpts from a taped interview Skakel gave an author in 1997. On the tape, Skakel says after returning from his cousin's house the night of the murder he went back out, climbed a tree near the Moxley house and masturbated. Moxley's body was found under a pine tree on her property.
Skakel originally told police that he came home and went to bed.
"He has spun a web in which he has ultimately entrapped himself," Benedict said.
The account emerged when Skakel feared that DNA evidence might be found in the early 1990s, Benedict said. No evidence of a sexual assault was found during the autopsy. Benedict said only the killer would know his DNA might be found at the scene.
On the 1997 tape, Skakel says he was panicked the morning after the slaying when Moxley's mother came to his house looking for her daughter. The defense argues Skakel didn't know until that morning that Moxley was missing and became worried because he had been out late that night and feared he would be connected with her disappearance.
But Benedict highlighted a portion of the tape where Skakel says he was worried "of what I went to bed with."
"Is that the Freudian slip of all ages?" Benedict asked the jury.
Sherman countered that 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." He said Skakel had problems as a teenager, "but they never rose to the level ... that he became a demonic killer on Halloween."
Sherman said Skakel gave the account to the author willingly.
"He did not say he killed Martha Moxley," Sherman said.
Benedict noted that prosecution witnesses — including several former students at the Elan School, a residential treatment center Skakel attended — said Skakel talked about the case.
One witness, Gregory Coleman, testified that Skakel told him, "I'm going to get away with murder, because I'm a Kennedy."
Coleman died last year after using heroin, but his pretrial testimony was read into the record by prosecutors.
Sherman said the prosecution witnesses were unreliable and suggested some just wanted to be involved in the drama of the case.
He also said prosecutors have focused on several suspects over the years, including Skakel's older brother, Thomas, and on the family's live-in tutor, Kenneth Littleton.
"The state has basically been playing investigative musical chairs for 27 years," Sherman said. "I don't know who committed this crime and I don't think they do."
Benedict's closing arguments — made at the end of a two-month trial — provided a sense of closure for the victim's family.
"My mother and I have been waiting for 27 years to hear that last hour of Jonathan Benedict's summation," said John Moxley, the victim's brother. "He exceeded our expectations in every regard."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.