Prosecution Rests in Skakel Trial

The prosecution in the murder trial of Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel rested its case Tuesday after playing a tape in which Skakel described his attraction to Martha Moxley and his activities the night she was killed.

The tape, recorded in 1997, was seized by investigators from Richard Hoffman, who planned to write a book with Skakel that was never published.

Skakel, 41, a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel, is charged with beating Moxley to death in October 1975 with a golf club later traced to a set owned by the Skakel family. Both Skakel and Moxley were 15 at the time.

Skakel, who has maintained his innocence, said his father was out of town the night Moxley was killed. He and his cousin, James Terrien, joined several Skakel siblings for dinner at a club where Skakel ordered rum and tonics despite being under age.

Later, after Moxley and others arrived at the Skakel house, Skakel said he and Moxley sat in his father's car, nicknamed the "Lustmobile," and that he tried to persuade her to come with him to Terrien's home. She said she had to be home at 9 p.m., Skakel said.

Skakel said he and several others went to Terrien's home in another part of Greenwich, where they smoked marijuana and watched Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Skakel said he went home but couldn't sleep and sneaked out of the house to spy in the window of a neighborhood woman. Skakel, whose mother died of cancer in 1973, said he had looked in windows at several friends' mothers.

"I think about it now in retrospect I just was looking for a mom," Skakel said.

He said he then went to Moxley's house, thinking, "Martha likes me. I'll go get a kiss from Martha. I'll be bold tonight."

He said he climbed a tree and threw sticks and small rocks at Moxley's window and yelled her name. He said he then masturbated briefly in the tree, climbed down and started for home. He said something told him to avoid a dark area on the Moxley property.

"I remember yelling, 'Who's in there?"' Skakel said. He said he threw some rocks into the darkness, then ran.

Returning home, he said he noticed the family's tutor, Kenneth Littleton, was not in the master bedroom where he was supposed to be. He said he had described Moxley to Littleton as "really cute" and "hot." Littleton was an early suspect in the case.

The next morning, Skakel said Moxley's mother asked him if he knew where Moxley was, and he panicked because he did not.

Skakel said he searched for Moxley on his bike, then learned when he returned to his house that her body had been found in the area where he had been frightened the night before.

"And I remember thinking, 'Oh my God, if I tell anybody that I was out that night, they're gonna say I did it,'" Skakel said.

Hoffman testified that Skakel had a crush on Moxley, and said Skakel seemed to often be in conflict with his older brother, Thomas Skakel.

"The impression he gave me was that Tommy bullied him a great deal, and that while he was growing up Tommy was his nemesis," Hoffman said.

Investigators and witnesses have said both brothers were interested in Moxley and that Michael Skakel felt his brother had stolen his girlfriend.

On cross-examination, Hoffman told defense attorney Michael Sherman that Skakel had never said he killed Moxley. Hoffman also said Skakel told the story of that night "quite willingly."

John Moxley, the victim's brother, said outside the courthouse that Skakel's comments to Hoffman were "as close to a confession you're going to get out of Michael.

"It's Michael in his own voice putting him at all the wrong places at all the wrong times," Moxley said.

The defense was expected to begin calling witnesses Wednesday.