Kerry Kennedy Acquitted of Drugged Driving in NY
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Kerry Kennedy was acquitted Friday of drugged driving after she accidentally took a sleeping pill and then sideswiped a truck in a wild highway drive she said she didn’t remember.
Kennedy hugged and clasped hands with her lawyers as a six-person jury cleared her of driving while impaired, a misdemeanor. It had carried the potential for up to a year in jail, though that would be unlikely for a first-time offender.
"I’m incredibly grateful to the jury for working so hard on this case ... and to my lawyers ... and to my family and friends and so many other people who supported me," Kennedy said afterward. "I’m happy justice was done."
A human-rights advocate, Kennedy is a scion of one political dynasty - a daughter of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and niece of President John F. Kennedy - and a onetime member of another, as the former wife of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Her 85-year-old mother, Ethel Kennedy, and other members of their famous family attended the trial, which drew so much attention that it was moved from a small-town courtroom to a bigger courthouse in White Plains.
Prosecutors and Kennedy’s defense lawyers agreed the 54-year-old took the sleeping drug zolpidem unintentionally, mistaking it for her daily thyroid medication, before heading off to her suburban New York gym on July 13, 2012. The trial centered on whether or not she realized she was impaired and should have stopped.
Despite the pill mix-up, "she is responsible for the chain of events that happened after that," prosecutor Doreen Lloyd said in her summation. She argued that Kennedy shrugged off the symptoms because she was busy.
Kennedy’s defense said what happened was an accident, not a crime.
"The DA never should have brought this case in the first place," defense attorney William Aronwald said afterward. "Kerry Kennedy has the resources" to defend herself, he said. "What about the person who doesn’t?"