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Skakel son remains defiant

January 11, 2003

Greenwich, Conn. - Still maintaining his family's innocence in the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley, John Skakel eulogized his father, Rushton Skakel Sr., Friday, saying that he had suffered "the indignity of having his son wrongly accused" of Martha's death.

Speaking at St. Mary's Church in Greenwich, John Skakel added that his father "chose not to get down on the level of those who have attacked the family."

John's younger brother Michael was convicted last year of beating Martha to death with a golf club after she left the Skakel home on Oct. 30, 1975.

Coupled with an upcoming article in the Atlantic Monthly magazine by Michael's first cousin, Robert Kennedy Jr., blaming the murder on a Skakel family tutor, Kenneth Littleton, John Skakel's remarks provide a further indication that the Skakel family refuses to accept the jury's verdict.

While appealing the decision in court, the family also has hired a public relations consultant, Dwayne Schenck, who introduced himself to reporters at the service, saying the family wanted to become "more involved" with the media.

For the past 27 years - during which time another Skakel brother, Thomas, also was considered a suspect - the family refused to speak to the news media. At the direction of their criminal attorney, Emanuel Margolis, they also refused to cooperate with the police investigation.

Margolis attended the service but Mickey Sherman, the attorney who represented Michael at his murder trial, did not. Citing Kennedy's article, which criticizes his courtroom tactics, Sherman said last year that the family had "turned on me."

Kennedy also did not attend the service. Schenck said, however, that Kennedy's mother, Ethel Kennedy, the wife of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, did attend. Ethel Kennedy is Rushton Skakel's sister.

A longtime Greenwich resident, Rushton Skakel died last week in Florida at age 79. Although suffering from dementia, he testified at Michael's trial.

Besides his sons Michael, Thomas and John, he leaves four other children, Rushton Jr., David, Steven and a daughter Julie; his second wife, Anna Mae; 13 grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.

At least one of those grandchildren attended the service - Michael's son Georgie, 3, who lives with Michael's estranged wife.

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© 2003 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.