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Kerry Kennedy drugged-driving trial opens in New York





WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) -- Kerry Kennedy swerved her Lexus into a truck, damaging the car and blowing a tire, but kept driving and later was slumped at her steering wheel and disoriented, motorists testified Monday at her drugged-driving trial.

Her lawyer said she was "sleep-driving" because she had accidentally taken a sleeping pill.

Kennedy, ex-wife of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, daughter of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and niece of President John F. Kennedy, went on trial Monday in suburban New York.

In his opening statement, defense lawyer Gerald Lefcourt told the six jurors that Kennedy was not disputing that she drove erratically. But he said it happened because Kennedy accidentally took a sleeping pill that morning instead of her thyroid medication.

Kennedy's blood tests revealed a small amount of the sleeping drug zolpidem.

"The zolpidem kicks in. It shuts her down. She's in a state of sleep-driving," Lefcourt said.

Prosecutor Doreen Lloyd said even if the pill were taken accidentally, Kennedy violated the law "by failing to stop and pull over as she felt the onset of symptoms."

But Lefcourt said Kennedy never knew what the drug was doing to her. He said the medication "hijacks your ability to make decisions."

Kennedy was arrested in 2012 after her car hit a tractor-trailer on an interstate highway near her home outside New York City. She drove to the next exit, where she failed a sobriety test, police said.

One fellow motorist, Henry Myers of North Salem, said he saw Kennedy swerve her car into the tractor-trailer on Interstate 684 and keep driving despite damaging her tire.

"I saw smoke. I figured the car would stop," he said. When it didn't, he called 911.

Another driver, William Carlino of Armonk, testified that a few minutes later he found Kennedy slumped over the wheel and disoriented, with the car running, in a left-turn lane on Route 22. Carlino said her car had one wheel without a tire.

He said he ran from his car to hers and knocked on her window, which seemed to startle her.

"I asked if she was OK and she nodded in the affirmative," he testified. He also called police.

Kennedy's mother, Ethel Kennedy, was among the supporters at her daughter's trial; Robert F. Kennedy's widow, 85, walked slowly with an escort as she entered the courthouse. Two of Kerry Kennedy's brothers, Robert Kennedy Jr. and Douglas Kennedy, also were in the courtroom.

The case was being heard in state Supreme Court, a rarity for such a minor charge, but Kennedy's lawyers successfully argued that the Town Court in Armonk, which had jurisdiction, was too small and poorly equipped for the trial.

A town judge and a state judge both refused defense efforts to get the charge dismissed, despite warm letters from family and friends extolling Kennedy's work in human rights around the world.

Kennedy, 54, of Bedford, won permission from Justice Robert Neary to miss last week's jury selection because she was on a human rights trip to Western Sahara.

The trial is expected to last about a week.

Douglas Kennedy took another minor criminal case to trial in 2012. He was acquitted in a nonjury case of child endangerment and harassment charges stemming from a scuffle in a hospital maternity ward in Mount Kisco.

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Drink More Water February 24 2014 at 5:12 PM

Fry her!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
lovcappuccino February 24 2014 at 5:06 PM

really - another excuse from the kennedys -the j. bieber - l. lohan - a. byrnes she will get off like all the others with $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. the poor SMUCH goes to jail. where's justice when you need it??????

Flag Reply +2 rate up
carealotinc February 24 2014 at 5:16 PM

Holly crap do they all look like dogs or what? I wonder if the system has the gonads to lock her up.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
Kaden carealotinc February 24 2014 at 5:32 PM

KENNEDYS ARE THE CHOSEN PEOPLE THEY ARE NOT LIKE YOU AND I

Flag Reply +1 rate up
gstev75035 February 24 2014 at 5:19 PM

A lame excuse for a lame individual . She says her pills look so alike that she took the wrong one. Right!!!! Gee officer...my vodka and OJ looked just like OJ and I may have made a mistake!! See how far these excuses get regular people.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
lor1972 February 24 2014 at 5:21 PM

The judge that is assigned to her case is .......NO BETTER.....let her not show up for court???How much did she pay him for that????Your honor.........your a criminal as well.....you make me sick.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
shipdog7 February 25 2014 at 4:51 AM

She had a rough childhood your honor. And her adult life has been nothing but drama and trauma throughout the family. Maybe if she quit traveling her mind could slow down and rest would come. I can't sleep either but I know the alternative of taking a sleeping pill makes you very groggy when you wake up. Depending if you take it at night or during the day "by accident". I believe her. She is a Kennedy. A thoroughbred. RIGHT! Laws don't apply to them.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Kaden February 24 2014 at 5:29 PM

YOU KNOW SHE WILL GET OFF SHE IS A KENNEDY. SO WHY EVEN BOTHER TO HAVE A TRIAL.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
carealotinc February 24 2014 at 5:30 PM

I am very sorry if I offended any dogs. >WOOF<

Flag Reply +2 rate up
n6fb February 24 2014 at 5:32 PM

I am so tired of the Kennedy clan, I could scream!!!

Flag Reply +10 rate up
miket1947 February 24 2014 at 5:38 PM

High class thugs. All of them. Don't go away mad, just go away.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
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