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Prosecutors Reach Key Point in Skakel Trial

Aired May 20, 2002 - 10:45   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: The murder trial of Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel resumes this hour in Connecticut. Skakel is of course accused of killing Martha Moxley with a golf club when they were both 15 years old, and neighbors, living in wealth Greenwich in 1975. Prosecutors have reached a key point in the trial, presenting testimony that Skakel allegedly confessed. Two former schoolmates say he confessed years ago. The prosecution is expected to wrap up its case this week in the event, of course, the defense gets to present its case.

With a look at where things are heading this week in the Skakel trial, we turn to Fannie Weinstein who's covering the trial for "People" magazine.

Hello there.

FANNIE WEINSTEIN, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Hi, Carol. How are you?

COSTELLO: What's on tap for today?

WEINSTEIN: Well, right now, the prosecution is finishing reading in prior testimony by Gregory Coleman. Gregory Coleman was a former classmate of Michael Skakel's at the Elan School in Maine, the school he was sent to in 1978. But Coleman died last year from a heroin overdose, but he did testify before the grand jury and at two previous pretrial hearing, so his testimony is currently being read into the record. So the jury can hear it. They started that on Friday. They should finish that today.

He, of course, is the witness who testified that Michael Skakel, said "I'm going to get away with murder. I'm a Kennedy."

COSTELLO: So how is the jury going to accept testimony from a dead man?

WEINSTEIN: I think the point is that the prosecution is going to argue that he testified not once, not twice, but three times, and that the judge allowed it. The judge told them they can consider this testimony. So I think they will follow the judge's instructions.

COSTELLO: These alleged confessions that Michael Skakel gave to friends at the Elan School, how do you think the jury will take them, because they seem so coerced when you look at the way they did things at the Elan School? WEINSTEIN: That's right. That's a point the defense has been trying to make, that Michael Skakel -- these confessions run from, I did it to I think it did it to I must have did it to I don't know if I did it. It's a real grab bag of confessions, and I think the defense has made a good -- has done well. The defense has shown these are statements he made only to end the beatings and the harassment that he was being subjected to as a result of his having run away from Elan, from violating other rules there.

So I think it's going to be hard for the jury to sort out all of the different confessions.

COSTELLO: It certainly is a strange case. The prosecution is expected to wrap up its part of the case this week, and then the defense takes over. What will happen then?

WEINSTEIN: Well the defense will also be calling witnesses from Elan, other former classmates of Michael Skakel, who will testify that he never confessed at the school, even under these beating and being harassed and that type of thing. that he just didn't confess. We can also expect to see the defense call a number of character witnesses, people who will testify that the Michael Skakel they know did not and could not have committed this murder, could have murdered Martha Moxley. Among those we should be seeing is Courtney Kennedy Hill, which is one of Skakel's Kennedy cousins. She is expected to testify as a character witness. And it wouldn't be surprised if we saw some of her siblings, such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., show up in court to support her that day.

COSTELLO: Interesting, OK, so in this strange case, what has been the strangest moment so far?

WEINSTEIN: Oh, there's been a number of them. Certainly Kenneth Littleton's testimony. Last Monday, we had him go from saying he did admit that he -- he said he confessed to killing Martha Moxley to a few minutes later, he said he didn't do it. I think that testimony will pretty much be a wash. I think the jury will probably end up just disregarding that, because it's just too hard to figure out exactly what he was saying and when he was saying it.

COSTELLO: It was very difficult testimony to kind of ferret out.

Thank you very much, Fannie Weinstein, reporting live for us from Norwalk, Connecticut today.

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