WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A six-person jury began deliberations in the drugged-driving trial of Bedford resident Kerry Kennedy late Thursday afternoon in White Plains after the prosecution and defense offered their closing statements.
Kennedy is facing one count of driving while ability impaired by drugs. Kennedy, who is the daughter of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, niece of John F. Kennedy and ex-wife of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was arrested in July 2012 following an accident in North Castle. Toxicology reports showed that Kennedy was under the influence of the sleeping pill Zolpidem, which she has said she mistakenly took instead of her thyroid medication.
The final witness called Thursday was David Benjamin, a clinical pharmacologist who wrote the final study reports needed to get Zolpidem approved by the Food and Drug Administration. He testified that the drug can cause confusion and impair someone's ability to make decisions. He also said studies have shown that the drug has a stronger effect on women than it does on men.
In order to render a guilty verdict, the jury must unanimously agree that Kennedy was driving, that she was under the influence of the sleeping medication Zolpidem, and that while she was driving, she was aware that she was under the influence of the medication. The only issue that has been argued throughout the case has been whether or not Kennedy became aware that she had ingested the sleeping pill while she was driving.
In his closing statement, Kennedy's defense attorney Gerald Lefcourt said that the prosecution failed to prove that Kennedy ever became aware that she had taken the wrong pill.
"She would not have continued to drive if she realized she was doing that," Lefcourt said.
Assistant District Attorney Doreen Lloyd said in her closing statement that Kennedy would have begun to feel the effects of the drug while driving, and that it would not have hit her all at once like she testified that it did.
"Her testimony belies the science of this drug, the purpose of this drug, what it is designed and manufactured to do. I submit to you, it is a gradual process, it doesn't happen in an instant," Lloyd said.
In a brief statement after court adjourned, Lefcourt said, "We think the evidence went in well, we think the summations went well and we look forward to hearing from the jury."
The jury will continue to deliberate when court reconvenes at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
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