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Book ties remarks by Skakel to slaying

STAMFORD, Conn. -- A new book on convicted killer Michael Skakel says the Kennedy cousin described being covered in blood the night of his neighbor's murder and told a family confidant that he might have killed Martha Moxley.

Skakel, who was convicted in 2002 of Moxley's 1975 murder, allegedly made the comment to an unnamed counselor at Elan School in Maine, where he was sent in the late 1970s.

The counselor described the statement during a visit to the reform school by Skakel's father, priest, and lawyer, according to the book, ''Conviction: Solving the Moxley Murder." The book is by Leonard Levitt, a Newsday reporter who long covered the case.

''A counselor advised them that Michael had described being covered in blood the night of the murder," the book states.

The book then quotes the Rev. Mark Connolly: ''He [the counselor] said Michael told him there was blood all over the place."

Skakel later denied making the comment to the counselor, according to the book.

Connolly declined to comment yesterday. The priest told state detective Frank Garr about the conversation with the counselor, according to the book.

Thomas Sheridan, Skakel's lawyer in the 1970s and the uncle of Skakel's former wife, said he did not remember the counselor's statement. ''I don't have any recollection, particularly the blood all over the place," he said.

Skakel's defense has maintained that he was extensively abused and coerced at Elan. The defense argued that Skakel was at a cousin's house several miles from the Greenwish murder scene when Moxley, 15, was killed.

Telephone messages were left yesterday for Michael Sherman, Skakel's trial lawyer, and Hope Seeley, a lawyer who is handling his appeal.

Skakel, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, was convicted June 7, 2002, of beating Moxley to death with a golf club. Skakel is serving a prison sentence of 20 years to life.

Skakel, who has long maintained his innocence, was convicted after a trial that focused on a series of confessions and incriminating statements that witnesses said he made at Elan and later to others.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has long campaigned for his cousin, called the book the latest effort to cash in on the tragedy. ''I'm sure if they had that kind of testimony, they would have used it," he said.

Levitt said the statement would not have been admissible.

''I didn't write this book for 20 years," Levitt said. ''If that's cashing in, I'm truly speechless with a cheap comment like that."

The book portrays Skakel as a ''pressure cooker" who could not stop talking about the murder over the years. It faults Greenwich police for showing too much deference to Skakel's powerful family in the crucial early hours of the investigation.

The book, the fourth in the case and the first since Skakel's conviction, is expected to go on sale this week. Skakel's appeal is pending with the Connecticut Supreme Court.

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