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Jury Deliberates in Kennedy Relative Murder Trial

The jury deliberated in the northeastern state of Connecticut Tuesday in the trial of Michael Skakel, a cousin by marriage of the Kennedy family. Mr. Skakel is charged with the 1975 murder of his neighbor and faces life in prison. Now, it is up to the jury to determine if the killer was Michael Skakel, the nephew of Ethel Kennedy, widow of the late Senator Robert Kennedy.

The three-and-a-half week trial was completed on Monday, more than two decades after teenager Martha Moxley was found under a tree bludgeoned to death with a golf club outside her home in a wealthy Connecticut neighborhood.

Prosecutors displayed a picture of Ms. Moxley smiling and then showed the jury photographs of her after the brutal murder. Relatives from both sides were present in the court room, including Mr. Skakel's first cousin, Robert Kennedy, Jr.

Mr. Skakel and Ms. Moxley were neighbors and were both 15 years old at the time of the killing. The murder weapon was linked to a set of golf clubs owned by the Skakel family.

However, there is no direct evidence linking Mr. Skakel to the murder. Michael Skakel's older brother Thomas Skakel and a live-in tutor had previously been suspects.

In his closing remarks, the prosecutor accused Mr. Skakel of attempting to obstruct an investigation and fabricating an alibi. The prosecution focused on a taped conversation between Mr. Skakel and a ghostwriter held in 1987. Mr. Skakel said he was drunk and had smoked marijuana on the night of the murder. He had also been on the Moxley property that night.

The prosecution said the tape, which did not include a confession, was being used by Mr. Skakel's attorney to cover-up the murder.

Mr. Skakel was depicted by the state as a troubled teenager who killed Ms. Moxley in a fit of jealousy. Former classmates of Mr. Skakel testified that he confessed to the murder while attending a drug rehabilitation center.

But the defense again asserted that although Mr. Skakel was interested romantically in Ms. Moxley, he did not kill her and never confessed to the crime. Mr. Skakel's attorney said the killer should, quote "rot in hell."

Mr. Skakel was originally charged as a juvenile, but the case was later moved to a court that tries adults.