Kerry Kennedy court date delayed in drugged driving case

Kerry Kennedy, ex-wife of New York Gov. Andrew Kerry Kennedy, ex-wife of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, flanked by her brother Christopher Kennedy, center left, and sister Rory Kennedy, right, walks from the North Castle Justice Court in Armonk. Kennedy was arrested Friday after State Police said her Lexus struck a tractor trailer on Interstate 684 north of New York City. Police said she drove the damaged car off the highway before it became disabled. (July 17, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Kerry Kennedy's first court appearance since police blood tests confirmed she had Ambien in her system when she crashed July 13 on Interstate 684 has been postponed to Sept. 11.

The Westchester County District Attorney's office said Tuesday the hearing, originally scheduled for Aug. 14, was pushed back at Kennedy's request due to scheduling conflicts.

Kennedy, 52, a mother of three who is the ex-wife of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the daughter of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, pleaded not guilty July 17 in North Castle Town Court to the misdemeanor charge of driving while ability impaired by drugs.

Her lawyer, John Pappalardo, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Kennedy denied after the July 17 hearing that the powerful prescription sleep aid was the cause of her crash, saying a battery of neurological tests had revealed she suffered a "complex partial seizure" which caused her to sideswipe a tractor trailer driven by a LaGrange trucker about 8 a.m.

"I remember getting on the highway and then I have no memory until I was stopped at a traffic light and a police officer was at my car door," she said outside the courthouse. "In my discussion with the police officer, I was confused and erratic."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

She admitted to police, however, after the crash that she might have accidentally taken an Ambien pill instead of her daily dose of Synthroid, a medication prescribed to treat a thyroid condition. Police found her by the side of the road on Route 22 near Exit 3 after she was reported slumped over the wheel of her damaged Lexus SUV.

State Police brought her to Northern Westchester Hospital, where blood was drawn and analyzed by technicians with the Westchester Department of Laboratories and Research. It revealed the presence of zolpidem, the generic name for Ambien, in her blood five hours after the crash. The drug is usually eliminated within 5 1/2 to eight hours after ingestion, experts said.

Last Wednesday, Newsday first reported that blood tests had found the drug in her system. The Westchester district attorney's office later filed the toxicology report in North Castle Town Court.

After the results became public, Kennedy apologized for the incident.

"I am deeply sorry to all those I endangered that day, and am enormously grateful for the support I have received over the past two weeks," she said in a statement released through a spokesman.

The truck driver she hit, Rocco Scuiletti, 47, was ticketed for leaving the scene of an accident without reporting. He is due in court Aug. 7.

You also may be interested in: