NORWALK, Conn. – A man and a woman on Tuesday were picked from the first group of prospective jurors to decide whether Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel killed teen-ager Martha Moxley in 1975.
Skakel is accused of beating 15-year-old Moxley to death with a golf club in their wealthy Greenwich neighborhood. Skakel was also 15 at the time.
One of the first potential jurors to be excused in the high-profile murder case was financial analyst Louis Rukeyser, recently ousted from the Public Broadcasting Service series "Wall $treet Week" after 32 years.
Rukeyser was excused after a humorous exchange with Superior Court Judge John F. Kavanewsky Jr. Asked if he was needed at his job, Rukeyser replied, "I'm irreplaceable," drawing laughter from others on the panel.
Besides Rukeyser, the first jury pool of 24 included several executives and a teacher. Several were excused for business or medical reasons.
The selection process is expected to take at least a month and the trial is expected to last another two months after that.
"Our sights are higher than merely creating reasonable doubt," said defense attorney Michael Sherman. "I would like the jury to go away feeling that Michael Skakel is truly innocent."
Skakel arrived at the courthouse shortly after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and did not speak to reporters.
Moxley's body was found on Halloween under a tree in her yard. She had been out the night before with other teens, including Skakel and his older brother, Thomas.
Skakel, a nephew of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was arrested in January 2000 after a one-judge grand jury investigated the murder.
He was arraigned as a juvenile because of his age when the crime was committed, but the case was later transferred to adult court.
If convicted, Skakel could face life in prison.
Authorities say Skakel, now 41, confessed to the crime in the late 1970s while attending Elan School, a substance abuse facility in Poland Spring, Maine.
Attention focused on Skakel in the 1990s after he changed his alibi when interviewed by a private investigative firm hired by his family.
A day before jury selection was due to start in Norwalk Superior Court, Sherman appeared on several morning television shows.
Prosecutors kept a lower profile.
"We're not going to discuss the case in the media. We're going to try the case in court," said Frank Garr, the state's lead investigator.
Garr, who has investigated the case for years, said he's happy the trial has finally arrived. "We're ready to go," Garr said.
Sherman said his defense would involve more than poking holes in the prosecutor's case.
"We don't plan to sit there and be reactive," he said.
Sherman would not provide any details of his strategy, including whether Skakel will take the stand.
"He's anxious but looking forward to being exonerated," Sherman said.
John Moxley, Martha's brother, said Sherman should put Skakel on the stand if he wants to prove his innocence.
He said his family is glad to finally have their day in court.
"I think it's kind of like Easter," Moxley said. "It's a whole new beginning."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.