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Skakel Jury's Request Is Rejected

Trial: Judge won't let the panel rehear part of the closing arguments.

June 07, 2002|From Associated Press

NORWALK, Conn. -- The judge in the murder trial of Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel rejected a request Thursday from jurors who wanted to rehear part of the prosecution's closing arguments.

Judge John F. Kavanewsky Jr. said he did not believe the request could be granted under state law because closing arguments are not evidence. Skakel's lawyer, Michael Sherman, objected to the request on those grounds.

The jury ended its third day of deliberations without reaching a verdict.

Skakel, 41, is accused of beating Martha Moxley to death with a golf club in October 1975, when they were 15-year-old neighbors in a wealthy gated community in Greenwich. He is a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

Susann Gill, a lawyer on the prosecution team, said a repeat of the closing arguments might help the jury resolve whatever issue it was considering.

"The state can see no prejudice in having the jury hear again what they already heard," Gill said.

But Sherman said no authority exists in state law to permit the rereading.

Kavanewsky said he would tell the jury he couldn't honor that request. But the judge agreed to reread his instructions on issues such as reasonable doubt, motive and alibi.

Jurors also reheard testimony of three witnesses, including forensics expert Henry Lee and a former Skakel friend who said Skakel had a crush on Moxley. Under cross-examination by Sherman, Lee said he had no direct evidence to tie Skakel to the killing.

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