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Kerry Kennedy not guilty in drugged-driving case

11:59 AM, Feb 28, 2014   |    comments
Kerry Kennedy is accused of driving while impaired with drugs. (Photo: Frank Becerra Jr., The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News)
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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - A jury found Kerry Kennedy not guilty Friday of driving while drugged.

The 54-year-old daughter of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was charged with a single count of driving while ability impaired by drugs, stemming from a July 13, 2012, incident in which she drove for miles down Interstate 684 while under the influence of Ambien, a fast-acting sleeping pill.

RELATED | Ambien driving?

The four-man, two-woman panel began discussing the case late Thursday after lawyers for Kennedy made their closing arguments. If convicted, Kennedy could have faced up to a year in jail.

At the heart of the case was whether the ex-wife of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and niece of President John F. Kennedy knowingly continued to drive after taking the pill, which she said was of similar color and shape to her thyroid medicine.

The Bedford, N.Y., resident fought the misdemeanor charges every step of the way, and the initial case was moved from North Castle Town Court to Westchester County Superior Court here because of what her lawyers argued would be a high-profile trial.

Kennedy grew up as a woman of privilege, the seventh of 11 children of Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy and became an author and human rights activist. She now joins another exclusive club: The tiny percentage of defendants acquitted of misdemeanor charges in the county's courts. In 2012, the latest year available, only 21 people - 0.2% of all cases - were fully acquitted, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.

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