News / USA

Defense: Pill Mixup Led to Kennedy 'Drugged Driving' Trial

Kerry Kennedy exits the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains, New York, Feb. 24, 2014.Kerry Kennedy exits the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains, New York, Feb. 24, 2014.
x
Kerry Kennedy exits the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains, New York, Feb. 24, 2014.
Kerry Kennedy exits the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains, New York, Feb. 24, 2014.
Reuters
A Kennedy family member's groggy behavior during her 2012 arrest for sideswiping a tractor trailer in New York was not the result of a criminal act but mistakenly taking a sleeping pill instead of her usual thyroid medication, her lawyers argued at her trial Monday.
 
Kerry Kennedy, 54, daughter of assassinated Senator Robert F. Kennedy and the ex-wife of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of driving while impaired.
 
“This case is about a mistake, plain and simple,” defense attorney Gerald Lefcourt said in his opening statement in Westchester County Court in White Plains, about 35 miles (56 km) north of New York City.
 
Lefcourt said it was a regrettable medication mixup that led to Kennedy's arrest for erratically driving her silver Lexus on Interstate 684 near North Castle in Westchester County the morning of July 13, 2012.
 
Kennedy, who wore a grey dress and jacket and black-rimmed glasses in court, is expected to be on trial for about a week.   Her mother, Ethel Kennedy, widow of Senator Kennedy, was also in the courtroom as Lefcourt described Kennedy as a devout Catholic and a devoted humanitarian and mother who would never willfully drive while impaired.
 
“If she would have realized her mistake and known she was not in the right condition to drive her car that day, she would never have continued on the road,” he told the jury.
 
Kennedy, who is also the niece of assassinated President John F. Kennedy, “is not seeking any advantage here because of her famous family,” Lefcourt said. “On the other hand, she should not be punished because of it.”
 
A jury trial is unusual for a relatively minor unclassified misdemeanor. If convicted, Kennedy could face up to a year in prison, but with no prior criminal record, it is unlikely she would serve any time behind bars, court officials said.
 
A toxicology report taken after Kennedy's arrest showed she had the drug zolpidem, which is sold under the brand name Ambien, in her system. The drug is a slow acting medication to induce sleep and overcome insomnia.
 
Prosecutors said Kennedy continued to drive her car after realizing she was impaired, endangering herself and other drivers, before running off the road and passing out behind the wheel.
 
Nobody was injured during the incident.
 
“It was an ominous and regrettable day for this defendant Kerry Kennedy,” said Assistant District Attorney Stefanie DeNise during opening statements. “Still she continued to operate her car in an unsafe manner.”
 
Kennedy drove about five miles while swerving into other lanes of traffic, the grassy median and eventually a tractor trailer, prosecutors told the jury.

You May Like

Key Al-Shabab Commander Captured

Zakariye Ismail Hersi was captured in a raid Saturday morning in the town of El Wak near the border with Kenya More

Relations Between Pakistan, Afghanistan Key to Fighting Taliban

A Pakistani official tells VOA that anti-terrorism campaign has resulted in improved counter-terrorism cooperation with Afghanistan More

160,000 Displaced by Flooding in Malaysia

Prime Minister Najib Razak visits hard-hit Kelantan state, announces nearly $145M in additional relief for victims More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syriai
X
Jeff Seldin
December 24, 2014 11:38 PM
Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Islamic State Emergence Transforms Syria and Iraq in 2014

The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as a potent force in early 2014 changed the dynamics of the region. Their brutal methods - including executions and forced slavery - horrified the international community, drawing Western forces into the conflict. It also splintered the war in Syria, where more than 200,000 Syrians have died in the conflict. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell looks back at a deadly year in the region -- and what 2015 may hold.
Video

Video Massive Study Provides Best Look at Greenland Ice Loss Yet

The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than predicted, according to a new study released in the Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences that combines NASA satellite data and aerial missions. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the finding means coastal communities worldwide could be at greater risk, sooner, from the impact of rising seas.
Video

Video US Marines, Toys for Tots Bring Christmas Joy

Christmas is a time for giving in the United States, especially to young children who look forward to getting presents. But some families don't have money to buy gifts. For nearly 70 years, a U.S. Marines-sponsored program has donated toys and distributed them to underprivileged children during the holiday season. VOA's Deborah Block tells us about the annual Toys for Tots program.
Video

Video France Rocked by Attacks as Fear of ISIS-Inspired Terror Grows

Eleven people were injured, two seriously, when a man drove his car into crowds of pedestrians Sunday night in the French city of Dijon, shouting ‘God is Great’ in Arabic. It’s the latest in a series of apparent ‘lone-wolf’ terror attacks in the West. Henry Ridgwell looks at the growing threat of attacks, which security experts say are likely inspired by the so-called "Islamic State" terror group.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid