Drugged-driving trial underway in New York
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Kerry Kennedy said she doesn’t remember anything that happened as she drove on a New York interstate one summer day in 2012 – swerving out of her lane, hitting a tractor-trailer and blowing a tire – because she accidentally took a sleeping pill before getting behind the wheel.
And she says she never sensed that the drug was having an effect.
“If I realized I was impaired I would have pulled over,” Kennedy testified Wednesday, the third day of her drugged-driving trial in White Plains.
Final witnesses and possibly closing arguments are expected Thursday.
Kennedy, ex-wife of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and daughter of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, claims she took the pill thinking it was her thyroid medication.
The prosecution has argued that even if she took the sleeping pill accidentally, Kennedy violated the law by failing to pull over as she felt it taking effect.
On cross-examination, a skeptical prosecutor Doreen Lloyd asked Kennedy if the pill really “overtook you without warning.”
“Yes,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy, 54, told defense attorney Gerald Lefcourt that she takes the thyroid pill every day and the sleeping pill only when traveling, but the medications, in similar bottles and similarly shaped, were together on the kitchen counter in preparation for an upcoming trip.
Lloyd said Kennedy “didn’t take the time or the care” to check the label on the medication and asked if she would agree that was careless.
“I would,” Kennedy said.
She said she remembers getting in the car and driving the local road toward Interstate 684, but her memory fades out just as she was merging onto the highway.
The next thing she recalls is a man tapping on her window as she sat slumped over the steering wheel after taking an exit ramp.
“He said, ‘Have you been in an accident?’” Kennedy said. “And I said, ‘No,’ because as far as I was concerned I hadn’t been in an accident.”
She said she became confused and frightened when she saw that the side of her Lexus was badly scraped and one tire was gone.
She failed several sobriety tests at the scene and was arrested.
Kennedy testified at length about her accomplishments in human rights work and the books she’s written on human rights and religion. At one point Justice Robert Neary told Lefcourt, “I’m not sure this is the right forum to go into exhaustive detail.”