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Damaging Testimony Presented in Skakel Trial - 2002-05-21

Prosecutors have presented damaging testimony in the murder trial of Michael Skakel, nephew of the late U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy. The high profile trial is in its third week in the northeastern state of Connecticut

Michael Skakel, now 41, is accused of killing his neighbor, Martha Moxley, with a golf club in 1975, when both were 15 years old.

The widow of Mr. Skakel's former schoolmate, Gregory Coleman, took the witness stand Monday, confirming what her husband had told the court more than a year ago.

Mr. Coleman died of a drug overdose last August. But in April 2001, he told a pre-trial hearing that Mr. Skakel said he was going to get away with murder because he was a Kennedy. He also testified that Mr. Skakel said he had killed a girl by hitting her head in with a golf club.

But later Mr. Coleman admitted he was high on heroine when he testified, leading many to question the validity of his statements.

Now his widow, Elizabeth Coleman, is testifying that her late husband told her as far back as 1986 that Michael Skakel confessed to a murder. She told the court her husband said Mr. Skakel had "told him he had murdered a girl with a golf club." The defense raised questions about the inconsistencies between Elizabeth Coleman's testimony and that of her husband. But overall, Mrs. Coleman corroborated her husband's story.

Even though Mr. Skakel was a juvenile at the time of the murder he is being tried as an adult and could face life in prison if convicted.