UPDATE 1-Seizure a possibility in RFK daughter’s car crash -NY expert


(Updates with additional testimony, cross-examination by
defense attorneys)

By Victoria Cavaliere

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. Feb 25 (Reuters) – Kerry Kennedy,
daughter of assassinated U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, was so
disoriented after side-swiping a truck in 2012 that it appeared
she may have suffered a seizure, a New York state trooper
testified on Tuesday at her impaired driving trial.

Trooper Bradley Molloy was called to the witness stand by
prosecutors on the second day of what local media has called a
“drugged driving” trial. He said he examined Kennedy when she
was found slumped over the wheel of her silver Lexus after the
July 13, 2012, traffic accident.

She appeared disoriented and confused after the accident,
possible signs of a seizure or stroke, Molloy told jurors in
Westchester County Court.

Nobody was injured in the incident and Kennedy has pleaded
not guilty to driving while impaired.

Molloy, a drug recognition expert, said Kennedy told him she
might have accidentally mixed up a sleeping pill with the
thyroid medication she had intended to take before getting
behind the wheel of her car en route to the gym.

Kennedy’s attorneys argued that a mix-up with her
medications left Kennedy so disoriented she may have suffered an
episode of “sleep driving,” not realizing she was operating a
vehicle.

Prosecutors argued that Kennedy should have become aware she
had taken a sleeping pill and was unfit to drive.

Molloy said Kennedy, the ex-wife of New York Governor Andrew
Cuomo, passed an alcohol test at the scene, registering zero
alcohol in her system. A toxicology report showed the sleeping
medication zolpidem, known by its brand name Ambien, in her
bloodstream.

Kennedy, 54, had driven more than 5 miles (8 km) at high
speed, swerving into other lanes and smashing into a
tractor-trailer on a highway about 35 miles (56 km) north of New
York City.

“I was concerned a medical condition might have occurred,”
Molloy said.

Kennedy, wearing a brown jacket and scarf, listened
attentively on Tuesday. Her mother, Ethel Kennedy, was also
present.

Prosecutors also called Elizabeth Spratt, the director of
toxicology at Westchester County Department of Labs and
Research, to discuss zolpidem and its effects.

“It’s not like you use the drug and five seconds later
you’re asleep,” Spratt said. “That’s not how this drug works.”

Defense attorneys grilled Spratt on whether Ambien can cause
“sleep driving.”

“I don’t know what side effects she experienced other than
falling asleep,” Spratt said. “I can’t say whether she became
aware,” she had taken the drug, she added.

Kennedy’s lawyers said Monday during opening statements that
she mixed up the sleeping aid with her thyroid medication, and
would not have continued to drive her car had she been aware of
her mistake.

After the prosecution rested its case on Tuesday, defense
attorneys called character witnesses.

Kennedy’s sister, Rory, a documentary filmmaker and the
youngest of Robert and Ethel Kennedy’s 11 children, said her
sister had a “stellar reputation.”

“Kerry has a reputation for sobriety and general healthy
living,” she said. Kennedy is expected to take the stand later
in the week.

During the 2012 incident, Kennedy crashed into a
tractor-trailer on an interstate highway and drove away. The
truck’s driver, Rocco Scuiletti of Poughkeepsie, was also
charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

If convicted of driving while impaired, a misdemeanor,
Kennedy could face up to one year in county jail. But with no
prior criminal record, Kennedy was unlikely to face jail time,
said an official at Westchester County Court said.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Scott Malone, David Gregorio and
Gunna Dickson)