Jury Deliberates in Kerry Kennedy Drugged Driving Case
(WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.) -- Jury deliberations will resume Friday in the drugged driving trial of Robert F. Kennedy's daughter Kerry. Jurors in the case were sent home Thursday, shortly after Judge Robert Neary read the charges to the jury, which began deliberating whether Kerry Kennedy felt drowsy or dizzy and should have pulled over before she hit a tractor-trailer, or whether, as her defense put it, this was all a "tragic mistake."
Kennedy, 54, is charged with a misdemeanor count of driving while impaired.
The defense said in closing arguments "there's no proof that she had become aware" Ambien was taking effect.
Facing the jury for 30 minutes, attorney Gerald Lefcourt told the jurors that Kerry Kennedy is “not seeking advantage because of her family. She wants you to focus on the evidence. Or lack of it.”
Lefcourt said Kennedy swallowing the Ambien was “a tragic mistake” and that the defense agrees with the prosecution that Kennedy was “totally out of it.” Lefcourt said, “It seems the prosecution doesn’t disagree that this was an accident,” referring to the testimony of Westchester County toxicologist Elizabeth Spratt, a witness for the prosecution.
According to Mr. Lefcourt, the only dispute is whether the prosecution has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Kennedy was aware that she had swallowed a Zolpidem.
Near the end of his closing arguments, the defense attorney walked the jury through that day in July of 2012 when he says Kennedy was scared and didn’t know what had happened to her, but wanted answers.
“She agreed to have blood and urine taken and asked for another blood sample so she could figure out what had happened,” said Lefcourt.
In closing, Gerald Lefcourt talked about the character witnesses his side called on day two and three of the trial, saying they “told you that she’s a serious, honest person.”
Prosecutors, on the other hand, said there's no way Kennedy didn't feel dizzy or drowsy as the "powerful sleeping aid" began coursing through her system.
“Be mindful what this drug was manufactured for…the goal is to put her to sleep,” Assistant District Attorney for Westchester County Doreen Lloyd said during the prosecution's 25-minute closing argument.
Lloyd focused her argument on the differing opinions of the two science witnesses for the defense and for the prosecution, reading the resume of her witness, Elizabeth Spratt, aloud at one point.
“It doesn’t hit you like a ton of bricks. You feel it coming on,” Lloyd said, quoting the Westchester County toxicologist.
In reference to the defense’s science expert, David Benjamin, the assistant D.A., said, “He was paid by the defense for his testimony today. He is the paid Ambien consultant of Kerry Kennedy. That’s his business. What science he told you was tailored to fit the defense. That’s what he wants you to believe.”
Doreen Lloyd quoted Kennedy’s testimony from Wednesday when she told the jury she had taken Ambien for a decade. “Over that period, you become familiar with a drug and the effects it has on your body,” said the prosecutor.
Lloyd ended by saying that “the mounting evidence against her was to control her public image.”
Outside the court Thursday, Lefcourt appeared to be pleased with the day's closing arguments.
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