Bryant Cousin Gives Moxley Murder New Twist

ByABC News via logo

Sept. 8, 2003 -- A former schoolmate of Michael Skakel says he has been hiding a terrible secret for more than 25 years.

Gitano "Tony" Bryant, a cousin of Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant, says he has known who killed 15-year-old Martha Moxley since the night of the grisly murder in 1975. And he claims that Michael Skakel, the Kennedy cousin convicted of the crime, had nothing to do with it.

"I am not seeking the limelight," Bryant said over the weekend. "I have a family to protect, but I also had to tell the truth, and I know Michael Skakel did not do this."

Bryant, now a businessman in Miami, Fla., says Skakel didn't commit the murder, and that two of his childhood friends did. Bryant did not publicly identify his friends.

The Hartford Courant reported today that one of the two men denied Bryant's account and said he had nothing to do with Moxley's death.

Skakel's new defense attorney, Hope Seeley, said Skakel will seek a new trialbased on the information from Bryant, whose basketball star cousin was charged with sexual assault in July.

A 30-Year-Old Mystery

When a court convicted Skakel of murder last summer and sentenced him to 20 years to life, it seemed to lay to rest a nearly 30-year-old mystery that had haunted Connecticut's elite in the wealthy town of Greenwich.

Moxley was savagely beaten to death in her posh Greenwich, Conn., neighborhood. Her body was found in the early hours of Oct. 31, 1975, on her family's Greenwich estate. Police said the girl was beaten to death with a golf club from the Skakel home, which was next door to the Moxley house.

For years, it was widely speculated that the attacker had been her neighbor, a then-teenage Michael Skakel, the nephew of Robert Kennedy's widow, Ethel.Prosecutors convinced jurors in June, 2002, that Skakel, who was also 15 at the time of the murder, had been competing with his brother Thomas for Moxley's affections and that Michael clubbed the girl to death when she rejected his sexual advances.

Skakel's conviction surprised many courtroom observers because prosecutors did not have any physical evidence linking him to the killing and there were no eyewitnesses.

Talk of a ‘Caveman’ Attack on Girl

Now, a year later, Bryant — a former classmate of Skakel — has brought a new wrinkle to the Moxley case.

He says he was with two friends, both visiting him from the Bronx, when they went to Moxley's neighborhood the night of her murder. The two friends reportedly picked up Skakel's golf clubs from Skakel's yard on a whim, and told Bryant they wanted to attack a girl "caveman style," using the clubs.

Bryant, wanting no part of their plan, left the neighborhood, and learned of Moxley's murder later. His friends later told him they committed the crime, but Bryant remained silent, he says.

Skakel's new defense lawyers tracked Bryant down based on an August 2002 tip.

Mickey Sherman, Skakel's original defense attorney, heard about Bryant's theory years ago, but dismissed it, according to newspaper reports. He had no comment on the request by Skakel's attorneys for a new trial except to say he continues to believe Skakel is innocent.

ABCNEWS' Bob Woodruff and producer Mary Pflum contributed to this report.