GIRL RECALLS ASSURING VICTIM, 9, OF SAFETY - The Buffalo News

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GIRL RECALLS ASSURING VICTIM, 9, OF SAFETY

Hours before 9-year-old Melody Wilson was sexually assaulted and slain on Squaw Island, she was told by an older girl to accompany Thomas Kennedy and some other children there and was assured Kennedy wouldn't harm her, the judge at Kennedy's murder trial was told today.

"I told her she had to go with him and that Tom wouldn't do nothing to her," Rebecca Martin, 16, testified.

"She just looked at me" and complied because Melody's two younger sisters were going with Kennedy, Rebecca told County Judge Joseph P. McCarthy, who is hearing evidence in Kennedy's non-jury trial.

Rebecca, the first of the half-dozen youthful witnesses who are to testify, told the judge that Kennedy frequently played with young children in the West Avenue neighborhood where he lived with Rebecca's cousin, Carol Hibbard.

McCarthy didn't permit Deputy District Attorney Joseph M. Mordino to ask Rebecca why Melody had to be reassured before she would accompany Kennedy to Squaw Island or what Melody told Rebecca.

A part-time maintenance man, Kennedy, now 22, is charged with sodomizing and murdering Melody sometime on the afternoon of Aug. 26, 1987, during a game of hide-and-seek on Squaw Island. His attorneys are employing an insanity defense.

Rebecca told the judge that a week before the slaying Kennedy was stabbing a wall in his former West Side flat with a switchblade because he had just been evicted.

Under questioning by Thomas J. Eoannou, one of Kennedy's court-assigned attorneys, the Martin girl agreed with Eoannou's contention that Kennedy would frequently "get real mad." She also said she found it peculiar that he would "play with little kids" a great deal.

Clifton Martin, 6, one of the children who accompanied Kennedy and the murder victim to Squaw Island, told the judge Melody did not leave the island with the group. The judge had Clifton give unsworn testimony after it was determined that the boy could not understand legal concepts.

Miss Hibbard, 20, told the judge she had been Kennedy's girlfriend for about a year before the slaying and gave birth to Kennedy's son three days after Melody was slain.

Miss Hibbard said Kennedy was living with her and her mother on West Avenue on the day of the slaying and came home that night and said he was "worried" about the missing Wilson girl.

After returning from Squaw Island with the other children, Kennedy told Melody's mother, Lucinda Wilson, that her daughter had left the group early after becoming angry because she had refused to be "it," the searcher in high-and-seek, Miss Hibbard testified.

After being arrested the next day, Kennedy told her he "must have" killed the Wilson girl, but he never explained his actions, Miss Hibbard testified.

She testified that about a year and a half ago, Kennedy became violent and beat the son she had by another man and struck the boy in the eye and back.

Questioned by Eoannou about the drawings and peculiar writings of Kennedy that police confiscated from her house after his arrest, Miss Hibbard told the judge he would draw pictures of nude women and children "after we had an argument."

She said Kennedy kept a "big thick folder" full of nude and peculiar drawings and writings.

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