Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, went on trial in New York on Monday charged with driving under the influence of drugs.
In 2012, she had an accident with her Lexus when she collided with a truck but didn’t stop. She was found later slumped of the wheel of her car in a disoriented condition, according to the testimony of other motorists at her trial.
According to Gerald Lefcourt, her lawyer, Kennedy’s defense was that she was “sleep-driving” because she had accidentally taken a sleeping pill.
Lefcourt told the six jurors that Kennedy admitted that she drove erratically, but it happened because Kennedy took a sleeping pill that morning by mistake, instead of her thyroid medication.
Kennedy’s blood tests confirmed 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 claimed.
However, the prosecutor Doreen Lloyd said even if the pill were taken accidentally, Kennedy violated the law because she had failed to stop when she felt the symptoms beginning.
Lefcourt said Kennedy was not aware of the side affects of the drug and that the medication “hijacks your ability to make decisions.”
Henry Myers of North Salem, said he saw Kennedy swerve her car into the tractor-trailer on Interstate 684 damaging her tire – but she didn’t stop. “I saw smoke. I figured the car would stop,” he said. When it didn’t, he called 911.
Members of the Kennedy family were in court to show their support for Kerry.They included her 85-year-old mother, Ethel Kennedy, and two of her brothers, Robert Kennedy Jr. and Douglas Kennedy.
Attempts by the defense for the charges to be dismissed were denied by two judges in different courts.
Kennedy, 54, of Bedford, did receive permission from Justice Robert Neary to miss the jury selection because she was away in the Western Sahara on a mission connected with her human rights activities.