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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid