Author Topic: Kerry’s lawyer plays Kennedy card in drugged driving trial  (Read 326 times)

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Offline mystery-ak

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Kerry’s lawyer plays Kennedy card in drugged driving trial
« on: February 24, 2014, 07:12:55 PM »

Kerry’s lawyer plays Kennedy card in drugged driving trial
By Laurel Babcock, Bob Fredericks and Kate SheehyFebruary 24, 2014 | 12:32pm

Kerry and Doug Kennedy wheeled Ethel Kennedy out of the White Plain court room where Kerry's DUI trial began on Monday.
Photo: Douglas Healey, Robert Kalfus

Kerry Kennedy’s drugged-driving trial kicked off Monday with her lawyer touting her famous lineage — and her matriarch mom Ethel making a rare public appearance in court to support her.

“She is a daughter of Ethel and Robert Kennedy and a niece of our past president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy,” said high-powered Kennedy lawyer Gerald Lefcourt to jurors in the packed White Plains court room, where two of Kerry’s brothers, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Douglas, also sat.

Lefcourt rattled off other personal tidbits about his “serious and religious’’ client — even the fact that she has two daughters in Ivy League schools — but acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary was clearly unimpressed.

“Mr. Lefcourt, this isn’t evidence,’’ the judge sniffed.

Kerry Kennedy, the ex-wife of Gov. Cuomo, is expected to take the stand in her own defense as early as Tuesday afternoon.

She was arrested the morning of July 13, 2012, after her 2008 silver Lexus SUV hit a tractor trailer on I-684 in Westchester. Kennedy, 54, didn’t stop and instead drove with a blown tire for another 5 miles before finally pulling off on a highway exit, where she struck a guardrail as she tried to drive away again.

Lefcourt claimed Monday that his client was “sleep driving’’ after accidentally taking an Ambien instead of her thyroid medication.
“This case is about a mistake, plain and simple,” he said.

But prosecutors said Kennedy had to know she was under the influence of the sleeping aid when she first crashed because the drug kicks in quickly.

“She would have realized her mistake and she would have known” she had taken the wrong medication, prosecutor Stefanie DeNise insisted.

“She is responsible for her actions that day … by failing to stop her car and pull over.”

Kennedy’s mom, the 85-year-old widow of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, listened intently after entering the courtroom in a wheelchair.

Dressed in a gray-and-white checked jacket, dark gray pants and sneakers, she was accompanied by family friend Joe Armstrong, former publisher of Texas Monthly, and an unidentified woman.

Bobby Kennedy exclusively told The Post that his sister should be found not guilty of driving under the influence because she’s a human-rights activist whose life-saving work would be severely curbed if she was sidelined by jail.

Kerry faces a single count of driving while impaired by drugs. If convicted, she could lose her license and land up to a year behind bars.

Lefcourt insisted to jurors that his client “is not seeking any advantage here because of her famous family.

“On the other hand, she should not be punished because of that family,” he said.

Kennedy told cops the day of the accident that she may have mistakenly taken the drug Zolpidem, sold as Ambien.

Four days later, she told reporters that her doctors believed that she suffered a “complex partial seizure’’ at the time, caused by a previous head injury.

But after drug tests revealed Ambien in her system, her legal team switched back to her original defense.

Lefcourt on Monday said Kennedy had rented out her home for the summer and was staying in an apartment over the garage while preparing for a trip to Africa. She put the Ambien, which she uses for overseas travel to sleep, next to her thyroid meds on the counter, he said, causing the mix-up.

He said she was fine leaving the house and navigating tight turns on her way to I-684.

But once she hit the highway, “she forgets what happened next. The Zolpidem kicks in, and she shuts down,’’ he said.

He said she only started sobering up after being taken to at Northern Westchester Hospital. Kennedy consented to blood and urine tests because she wanted to know what happened to her, he said.

“All this shows that she certainly didn’t know anytime while driving” that she was under influence of Ambien, the lawyer said.

Lefcourt said Kennedy’s Ambien “was a valid prescription, this was not a party drug.”

Witnesses described the accident for jurors, including Henry Myers, who called cops after seeing her hit the truck.

Under questioning from assistant DA Doreen Lloyd, he said he was at stop light getting ready to get on 684 south behind a silver Lexus with “Joe Kennedy for Congress” and “Riverkeeper” bumper stickers.

Kennedy’s driving was erratic from the moment the light turned green, he said.

“She swerved onto the grass, I thought maybe she was on her phone or something” but then swerved again as they got onto highway,’’ he said.

“The car took off pretty quick, got into the middle lane [and] then was swerving into the other lanes” at 70 to 75 mph without signalling, Myers said.

“A tractor trailer came up beside her, the Lexus hit the side of him, I saw smoke. I figured the car would stop but then as we kept going I saw a big piece of tire roll down the shoulder,” he said.

Kennedy got off at Exit 3, and Myers called 911.

A second witness, William Carlino of Armonk, whose kids go to school with Kennedy, came upon her in her car at an intersection off Exit 3 and saw her slumped against the steering wheel.

He said he didn’t recognize her at the time.

“I asked if she was OK, and she nodded in the affirmative,” he said, adding that she appeared “a bit disoriented.”

She then got back in the car and started to back up, Carlino said.He said he told her to stop, but she kept going, hitting the guard rail.
That’s when he called cops, he said.

Under cross examination, Lefcourt asked, “She was out of it?”

“Yes, I would say, yes,” Carlino answered.

North Castle Police Officer Joel Thomas, under questioning by DeNise, said that as he questioned Kennedy, “Her speech was slow and deliberate.

“I asked her if she was diabetic or on any medications that would cause this condition. She said she was not.”

“She was asked to recite the alphabet from the letter J to the letter T. She performed it successfully without mistakes,’’ he said.
He said he then asked her to stand on one leg.

“She did not perform the test successfully,’’ the cop said. “She was unable to maintain her balance.”

Based on that and other balance tests, “we thought she was impaired,’’ he said.

Video from a police car shows her at one point in the back of the cruiser looking out the window with her arms crossed. She’s dressed in shorts, a tank top and sneakers; she has said she was headed to the gym at the time of the accident.

After a few minutes, it appears that her head slumps forward in the car and she’s sleeping.

After another roughly 11 minutes of the film were shown in court in which Kennedy does nothing but sleep, the frustrated judge asked, “How much longer do we see this?”

Kennedy arrived to court dressed in a conservative gray coat, tights and knee-length dress with small pumps. She was accompanied by her lawyers and smiled as reporters shouted questions.

Kennedy got permission from Judge Neary to miss jury selection last week because she was on a trip to Western Sahara promoting human rights.

She had hoped to avoid a trial, but her bid to have the case tossed failed last week after Neary denied her motion to have the case dropped because she supposedly took the sleeping pill by accident.

Even if Kennedy accidentally drugged herself with a sleeping pill, she broke the law if she kept driving after feeling the effects, prosecutors argue.

During jury selection, Neary did not allow defense lawyers to ask potential jurors about their political affiliations but said they can ask if they have any “strong feelings” about the Kennedy family.

In addition to character witnesses, the defense plans to call a Massachusetts pharmacologist, Dr. David Benjamin.

The prosecution’s witness list includes Elizabeth Stratton as an expert on Zolpidem.

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Offline Right_in_Virginia

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Re: Kerry’s lawyer plays Kennedy card in drugged driving trial
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2014, 07:29:26 PM »
This is just wrong .... so wrong.   **nononono*

Offline mountaineer

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Re: Kerry’s lawyer plays Kennedy card in drugged driving trial
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2014, 07:44:42 PM »
See also related posts in politics and celebrity thread in sports/entertainment
Love your neighbor. Regardless of party affiliation.

Offline rangerrebew

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Re: Kerry’s lawyer plays Kennedy card in drugged driving trial
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2014, 09:18:23 AM »
If she is found not guilty by reason of drugs, every junkie or alchoholic in the world should be able to use that defense when they have a wreck under the influence of drugs or liquor. :drunk:
America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. Abraham Lincoln

Offline mountaineer

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Re: Kerry’s lawyer plays Kennedy card in drugged driving trial
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2014, 08:30:13 AM »

Andrea Peyser.
Andrea Peyser


Kennedy wasted no time playing the ‘Daddy’ card
By Andrea Peyser
February 27, 2014 | 1:56am

She’s a mom, a human-rights leader — oh, and another fatherless Kennedy.

Testifying in her own defense at her drugged driving trial Wednesday, Kerry Kennedy wasted little time before playing the “Daddy” card.

“Daddy was the attorney general during the civil rights movement and then a senator,” the 54-year-old testified, supposedly explaining why she grew up in Virginia, but coyly invoking the memory of her slain father, Sen Robert F. Kennedy.

As if jurors needed yet another reminder that a member of the American royal family was slumming right in front of their eyes.

“I have 10 brothers and sisters. My mother raised us because my father died when I was 8,” she said. Her lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, asked how her father died.

“He was killed while running for president,” she reminded.

I guess we can shut the lights and go home now. Kerry has spoken.

Talking in a raspy voice, the niece of slain President John F. Kennedy (jurors were reminded of that one by her lawyer during his opening statement Monday) and former wife of Gov. Cuomo at times sounded mighty annoyed. Other times, it was as if she might cry when, for perhaps the first time in her charmed existence, things didn’t go Kerry’s way.

She told the packed Westchester County courtroom about her human-rights work that sent the jet-setter this month to fabulous places such as Greece and France where she had a critical meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry — yet another name-drop — about the persecution of homosexuals in the African nation of Uganda.

All this nonsense annoyed the judge.“There is no question about the work that you do, but I’m not sure this is the forum to go into this exhaustive detail,” said Acting Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary.

The six jurors and two alternates looked starstuck as Kerry pretended to be so ditzy, she may have once lost a vial of Ambien sleeping pills.

“I’m not the most organized person,’’ Kerry said with an exaggerated laugh while under cross-examination by an unamused Assistant District Attorney Doreen Lloyd.

Kennedy smashed her silver 2008 Lexus SUV into a tractor-trailer on Interstate 684 on July 13, 2012. Toxicology results later revealed she was under the influence of Ambien. She’s on trial for driving while ability impaired by drugs, a misdemeanor.

Under withering cross-examination, Lloyd hit Kerry with her own words.

She read from a self-serving statement Kerry gave four days after the crash. Kerry had said her doctors believed she suffered a “complex partial seizure’’ caused by an earlier brain injury.

And Kerry freaked out.

“Can I, can I just clarify?’’ she begged Judge Neary. He said no.

She couldn’t control herself.

“I just want to talk to you for a second,’’ Kerry whined directly to Neary. “If I answer something incorrectly, I can’t clarify that?’’ Neary told her she’d have to wait for a question from her own attorney before she’d get her say.

Lloyd was incredulous that, as Kennedy claims, she took a sleeping pill, mistaking it for her thyroid medication.

“It would have taken you only a second to read that pill bottle,” Lloyd said.

“I really wish I had or we wouldn’t be here today,” Kennedy replied, trying to laugh.

“Would you agree that was careless of you?” Lloyd asked.

“I would,” Kennedy answered.

Her last thought before she rammed her Lexus SUV into a tractor trailer?

“I remember thinking how beautiful the light was filtering through the trees at that hour,” she told jurors, who could start deliberations Thursday.

“And then I have no memory until my car was at a stop on Route 22,” where cops found her slumped over the wheel near her Bedford home.

Prosecutors stress that regardless of whether she took the Ambien by mistake, Kennedy should have pulled over as soon as she felt drowsy.

Kennedy claimed that after 10 years of taking Ambien, she had no idea how fast the drug makes her drowsy.

“I don’t really pay attention because I’m going to sleep,” Kennedy told jurors. “I just go to sleep.”

Adding star power to the session, Kerry’s 85-year old mother, Ethel, was joined by sisters Rory, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend — Maryland’s former lieutenant governor — and actress Diane Neal, who played a prosecutor on the TV show“Law and Order SVU.’’

They can’t save her from herself. Kerry should be locked up on grounds of bad taste alone.
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